PRINCEVILLE — Paulina Ann Ka’aumoana was walking her 19-year-old dog on Monday morning just after 11 when the heeler-mix killed a baby nene and triggered an alleged assault.
Police responded to the scene after the endangered bird was killed and a man allegedly attacked Ka’aumoana and her dog.
Dispatch also called the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, according to DLNR spokesman AJ McWhorter.
“An officer removed the carcass and they are processing the case,” McWhorter said Monday afternoon.
Kim Tamaoka, spokeswoman for KPD, confirmed a 37-year-old Hanamaulu man was working nearby and saw what happened.
“The man began to kick the dog in his attempt to stop the attack, and during his attempt he allegedly assaulted the woman. The woman reported the incident to police and the man, Alex Wraight, was subsequently arrested for suspicion of assault in the third degree,” Tamaoka said.
Ka’aumoana said the whole event was “uncharacteristic” of her dog in an interview with The Garden Island about an hour after the incident.
“He has an injury on his front leg and he’s mostly blind and deaf. Normally, he doesn’t chase them,” she said.
The 30-year Kauai resident has lived in Princeville for eight years and says the dog is so mellow she’s kept him off the leash for 10 years, knowing that it could draw fines if they’re caught violating the leash laws.
But, she says the elderly dog doesn’t walk fast enough to get away from her and is known throughout the neighborhood as friendly, mellow and sedentary.
“The police officer asked me why I didn’t have him on the leash and it’s because he never chases anything,” Ka’aumoana said. “It’s the weirdest thing.”
Monday morning, Ka’aumoana considered not even walking the dog, but decided to take him along on her morning walk with two friends.
She said about a block into the journey, the dog started wandering toward some standing water near the Princeville Golf Course and Ka’aumoana was concerned he was going to injure himself.
“I almost reached him, but then he went up toward the path and started going away from me,” Ka’aumoana said. “There weren’t any nenes near him at that time.”
The dog reached the path and a runner went by. Because the dog’s vision isn’t clear, he started following the runner, apparently thinking it was Ka’aumoana and her friends.
That took the dog close to some nene that were nesting in the trees near the path in Princeville and those nene caught the dog’s attention. He lunged.
“By the time I got there, he had this brand new baby nene in his mouth and the baby had already died,” she said.
As she was pulling her dog away from the nene, Ka’aumoana says a man who witnessed the event ran across the street and started kicking the dog. She intervened and says she was kicked and punched trying to get her dog away from the man.
Amanda Olson, Princeville resident, saw the incident from her home.
“He kicked her and beat her up,” Olson said minutes after police arrived on scene. “The dog killed the baby nene and then the guy came running over from the construction site across the street.”
Harming or killing an endangered bird is punishable under federal law by up to $50,000 in fines and a year in jail, and Ka’aumoana said she understands she’ll be facing some repercussions for letting her dog run free.
She also says she knows it’s almost time to put the dog down and sees the incident as a tragic push in that direction.
“I was wanting a sign to put my dog down and I’m sorry this is it,” Ka’aumoana said. “He’s been acting funny and I haven’t been bringing him out, like to the beach. He sleeps like 18 hours a day.”
Jessica Else, reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at email@example.com