WAIMEA — A quiet neighborhood adjacent to Lucy Wright Park was upset last week following the death of a cat.
Mary Hayes was walking near Waimea Pier with her two small dogs on Oct. 25., when three hunting dogs came toward them. She said that after she pushed them away, they turned their attention to a cat, which they then chased and killed.
“I have never witnessed anything so violent in my life,” Hayes said. “I am not a rabid anti-hunter person, but I am an anti-cruelty person. I know the job of hunting dogs is to kill, but it is not to kill pets.”
Hayes said she didn’t call police because the cat did not belong to her, but she did call the Kauai Humane Society. A KHS staff member said there has been a report filed and the agency is investigating the case.
The cat lived with a local family but stayed mostly outdoors and enjoyed playing with neighbor kids, Hayes said.
Clifton Kukino of Kauai Realty said the dogs’ owner was notified that the dogs would have to be moved from the rental home.
The owner of the dogs, Brad Shikahiro, said he has found a place to keep his dogs, and he intends to continue hunting with them.
The dogs have not caused a problem in the past, he said. Although his dogs did kill the cat, Shikahiro said it was unusual behavior, and that a scratch on the nose of one of the dogs may have turned play into something more.
“I have never caused trouble in the community and never had any complaints,” he said.
Shikahiro was hunting in the mountains when his wife called to tell him what happened. His wife was tearful and apologized to the cat’s owners. Shikahiro did the same after he arrived home.
The Shikahiros were not carelessly letting the dogs run loose, he explained. The cage had a loose latch, and the dogs figured out how to push the latch, got out and attacked the cat.
The cage has since been repaired, and the owners of the animals came to an understanding, Shikahiro said.
“He forgive me and that was it,” Shikahiro said. “He is not pressing charges and this is just something that happened.”
“It’s a local thing, sometimes a dog gets out and that happens,” he continued. “I don’t really understand why this thing went this far.”
Shikahiro said he likes whippets because they are not aggressive toward people. His dogs are nearly house dogs, he said, but go hunting with him on weekends.
“They are not aggressive to people and have never been,” he said.
The dogs’ first instinct would be to run up to the cat, circle and sniff it, he said. The cat may have jumped and swiped at one of them with its claws and that may have provoked them to attack, he said.
When the dogs got out of their cage, Shikahiro said, they passed by his pet goat on a leash to cross the street, where they encountered the other dogs and the cat.
“If they wanted to kill something, they would have killed the goat,” he said.
The real story here is that a small boy pulled the dog up by its collar until it dropped the cat, he said. The dog never showed any aggression to the boy or to any other human nearby.
There were several people in the nearby park pavilion who could see Hayes, but their view of the attack was obstructed, she said.
The whippets surrounded her, wanting to get at her dogs, Hayes said. They weren’t baring their teeth, but as she did not know what they would do, she began kicking them away — and that is when they went after the cat.
“One dog spotted the cat in the bushes and the other two dogs came over and they all flushed it out,” she said. “Before I knew it, the cat was on its back and the three dogs were all on it.”
Lili Neubig, a neighbor, said she saw Hayes throw her hands in the air while screaming. Hayes threw a rock at one of the dogs, Neubig said, and for all she knew Hayes might have hit the cat instead.
“There were no puncture wounds on the cat or any blood. There was just one scratch under here,” Neubig said as she pointed along her side.
If the rock hit the cat in the head, that might have been what killed it, Neubig added.
When it was over, Hayes said she picked up her dogs and took them home. Then she returned to the corner to wait for police but the neighbors buried the cat, consoled her for witnessing the event, and did not file a complaint.
“I want to stand up for people who can’t stand up,” Hayes said. “For whatever reason, and that belongs to them, they say they can’t come forward and I have to respect that.”
Hayes moved into her rental 18 months ago. Shikahiro lived in the house next door for six years until moving around the corner to Kahakai Road two months ago. Hayes is about to own the former Shikahiro home, where the two will again have bordering back yards.
Hayes said she would like to see regulations on hunting dogs within subdivisions and small communities to be more clarified, especially as regards to living conditions of the animals and restraints.
Shikahiro said he is upset that people will assume he is a bad dog owner from this attention, and think that his dogs are vicious. He said they were not raised to be aggressive. It is hard to train a whippet to hunt, he said. He likes them because they are fast, but also good dogs.
“These are very mellow dogs and one was my house dog for a year,” he said. “I am not denying that my dog did something wrong, but I have owned them since they were puppies and they have never done anything wrong.”