LIHUE — It might have been the Fourth of July fireworks that scared Britney Dawa’s hunting dogs out of a relative’s fenced-in yard in Anahola.
But Bebe and Soulja Girl had never been bothered much by loud noises, Dawa said. And they had never gone away from home for more than a day.
On July 5, the day she learned the dogs were missing, Dawa said she found something suspicious: Pigs feet had been thrown into the yard where the dogs are kept.
Soulja Girl found her way home on July 5. But Bebe, Soulja Girl’s mother and 8-year-old hound mix, never returned.
Dawa said her boyfriend found Bebe’s body July 6 in Anahola hanging from a tree. The dog’s head and shoulder were pierced with bullet holes, Dawa said. The tail and paws were missing.
On the ground, not far from the dog’s decomposing body, Dawa said her boyfriend found Bebe’s collar.
“She was our best hunting dog,” said Dawa, a 25-year-old Kapaa resident. “We’ve had her for eight years. Of course, our other dog is super traumatized — that’s her mom, they’ve never been apart. I’m really just in shock.”
A $5,000 reward is being offered by the Humane Society of the United States for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in connection to Bebe’s killing, HSUS Hawaii Director Inga Gibson said.
“This case appears to be a felony, which in Hawaii carries a fine of up to $10,000 and five years in jail,” Gibson said. “Sometimes a monetary reward is sadly what’s needed to bring forth more information. It sends a strong message to the community that animal cruelty is serious and there’s zero tolerance for shooting, mutilating, torturing or killing a dog. We don’t want this to happen to someone else’s pet.”
Kauai Humane Society, in cooperation with Kauai Police Department, is the organization that would lead an investigation into Bebe’s killing, Gibson said.
KHS Executive Director Penny Cistaro said the organization does not have the details it needs to initiate an investigation into the dog hanging. KHS was made aware of the situation on Monday.
“There are no leads with this one so we are really going to rely on the community,” Cistaro said. “There is no information. I don’t know if it’s somebody being malicious and cruel or if that dog was found dead somewhere and then this happened. This kind of situation is not very common.”
About a year ago KHS investigated a similar case involving a mixed-breed dog and a pitbull found hanging from a tree off of Kealia Road in Anahola, Cistaro said. The incident was reported by a local resident who came across the gruesome scene.
One of the dogs had a microchip. But the registered owner had previously given away the dog and did not remember to whom, Cistaro said.
“We could never track down the owner because there were no leads,” Cistaro said. “KPD did come out and assist in the investigation.”
Dawa has not notified KHS about her dog’s killing. She has not filed a police report. Police cannot investigate an incident that hasn’t been reported, according to KPD spokeswoman Sarah Blane.
Dawa said her boyfriend, who also owns the dog, declined to speak to The Garden Island about Bebe’s death or involve the police, but Dawa said she is sharing Bebe’s story with TGI in hopes that someone will come forward with information about who killed her dog — and why.
“I want justice,” Dawa said. “I don’t believe she deserved that and whoever did it is obviously dangerous.”
Gibson said it’s not uncommon for people in small communities to be reluctant to report animal cruelty incidents since the offender could very well be a neighbor.
“We would really encourage the owner and anyone with any information to stay in contact and work with the KHS because in order to hold anyone accountable they would have to work within the system,” Gibson said. “We understand that folks are fearful of retaliation. They fear for themselves, they fear for their pets, but we know through criminologists that people who abuse animals are more likely to take that violence against people.
“These are all warning signs that we’ve seen before with other animal cruelty cases. This could be a juvenile. This could be a cry for help that there’s a larger issue at play here.”
Over the weekend, Dawa posted the story on Facebook in hopes of drawing attention to the situation. It received more than 700 comments.
“I really just want an answer. Does anybody know who did it?” Dawa said. “I don’t know who to look for or what to ask and I’m really just in shock.”
Information and tips about Bebe’s killing can be reported to Kauai Humane Society at 632-0610.
Brittany Lyte, enviromental reporter, can be reached at 245-0441.