Letter for Monday, November 25, 2019

KHS policy not fairly applied

On Oct. 4, Mirah A. Horowitz, the executive director of the Kauai Humane Society, wrote a guest piece (TGI Forum) on the new $90 fee being imposed by the humane society for bringing in certain stray cats. In that piece, she claimed that the fee is charged only for “unlicensed ferals.” If the cat is “a friendly stray,” then no fee is charged.

This would mean that they must make some determination as to whether or not the cat is a “friendly stray” or an “unlicensed feral” prior to charging the fee.

I know for a fact that this is not the case, or at least is not the way they handle such issues every time.

On Sept. 19, I took a stray I trapped on my property to the humane society, and was charged this new, $90 fee. Nobody asked me to distinguish this cat as a “friendly stray” vs. an “unlicensed feral,” and even if they had, there is no way I would have been able to choose. It wasn’t my cat. The person working the front desk would not process the cat until I paid the $90 fee. She did not examine the cat prior to collecting the fee. So how was it determined that the $90 should be assessed?

The humane society is now making part of the community — the one that cares enough to try to do something about the serious stray-cat problem on this island — pay for a problem they didn’t necessarily create.

Since 2007, I must have taken over 60 and probably close to 100 strays trapped on my property to the humane society. Had I been charged a $90 fee every time, I would be out between $5,400 and $9,000!

I have complained to the County Council and the mayor’s office about this. It is a grossly inappropriate way to handle this situation. Let cat owners bear this cost, since cat owners create this problem by not getting their pets fixed and allowing them to roam freely, creating an invasive-species problem which affects the native-bird population.

Michael Mann, Lihue

  1. Steven McMacken November 25, 2019 4:50 am Reply

    Sometimes, living on Kauai makes you feel like you’re stuck smack dab in the middle of the theater of the absurd. Your experience with the Kauai Humane Society is a perfect illustration. And it’s like waiting for Godot, wondering if the County Council and Mayor will ever address the feral/stray cat problem and take action by implementing policies that would rid the island once and for all of this plague. It may already be too late to save the native birds, like the akikiki — which also happens to be in peril because of climate change. Kauai has lost more than half of its native species. Could the rest disappear in our lifetimes?

  2. Uncleaina November 25, 2019 6:12 am Reply

    Couple things. First off Mr Mann big thanks to you for trying to help reduce the number of feral cats because they are the number one reason we lose endangered species. Second, how utterly irresponsible of KHS to implement this new policy! Especially considering they’ve been working with Animal Balance to trap neuter and release feral cats back into the environment where they can continue to eat baby nene and shearwaters. This new Horowitz person apparently doesn’t care about the special ecosystems we have here in Kauai – at least that’s what this new policy clearly represents.

  3. JAMES November 25, 2019 7:37 am Reply

    I applaud you for your community service, but I don’t think it’s realistic to charge cat owners for the fee, although I like the concept. Implementing your proposal would be problematic, to say the least. How would you do it? Charge an extra $90 fee when someone rescues a cat from KHS? Send a bill to everyone who has adopted a cat? As always, the devil is in the details. Probably the most realistic approach to obtain money for the surcharge is to approach non-profits for donations, start drives, partner with stores that sell pet food and products, and other types of voluntary giving. Also, continue to lobby the KHS and those that fund it to adjust their thinking about the fee and see if the fee can eventually be waived for the good of the eco-system of our Island.

  4. kimo November 25, 2019 7:54 am Reply


    A suggested policy from a fairly neutral observer would be….
    1. Spaying/neutering on cats be done at a discount at the humane society
    2. Unwanted cats be accepted and euthanized within a week if not adopted

  5. tunataxi November 25, 2019 8:54 am Reply

    $90 to catch and turn in a stray that is killing our native birds… they should be paying people $20 to bring them in. You need to read between the lines. Clearly the message of a $90 fee to bring a stray to KHS is that they DO NOT WANT them. What they want is for people to find their own permanent solution to stray cats invading their property. Act accordingly

  6. curious dog November 25, 2019 9:58 am Reply

    Wouldn’t it be helpful if ALL dogs & cats, regardless of use (hunting, joy, mousing, etc) were spayed, neutered & chipped? By making this a mandatory law, all these feral cats in the future wouldn’t be around & the ones who are found would have an owners chip to identify them.

    Kind’ve like a VIN # on a car. Hmmm, Feral cars…now how does the county handle these??

    1. Jake November 26, 2019 3:45 am Reply

      Well, three things prevent mandatory spay, neutering, and chipping all animals:

      1. The “Cultural Police” will yell that all the local hunters need dogs to hunt all the pigs on the island. You would be infringing on the “local hobby” of hunting, because spending the weekend in the woods is better than earning money at a job and feeding your family. SMH.

      2. Almost all local owners of pets on Kauai only understand one word…”Free”. You would have to use county taxes to pay for this, as they will make no effort to bring their pets in and have to pay for it.

      3. How will you enforce the requirement? The hunters will never pay to “fix” their dogs, and chip their dogs. They will cry about any fines, and become combative that it is their “cultural right” to put 15 dogs in a cage designed for 2, hunt pigs for their family, and the right to breed dogs at will.

      Good in theory, but locals don’t care about animals on this island. Just visit KHS sometime…..the volunteers and donations are not locals, or from locals.

      1. Michael Mann November 26, 2019 10:54 pm Reply

        While there is definitely a “local” component to this issue, it is very wrong to make out like it is all a “local” issue. This TNR nonsense does not originate with locals, and locals are not the ones pushing it. Locals are not the ones that I see feeding the strays in various parts of the island. Feral cats are a problem in other places on the mainland where there are no “locals” in the Hawaiian sense of the word. The problem is with people who fail to treat cats like the natural predatory creatures that they are. The problem is with people who want to insist that their cat will “go crazy” if it is cooped up inside a house all day, but they don’t want to take measures to provide their cat with enclosed spaces where they can roam. The problem is laziness on the part of many pet owners, many of whom are not “locals.”

        1. Jake December 3, 2019 3:57 am Reply

          First Generation transplants take their pets to the Vet, most pets are licensed per county code, have been “fixed”, and are properly fed and treated.

          The “local” mentality is “I’m not spending a dime on my animals, because,… you know,… they are animals”. They are rarely taken to the Vet, are not licensed, are not “fixed”, and are tied to trees with chains because there is no enforcement on this island, and, mostly, it is an accepted “Culture” that allows this.

          You are smoking crack if you think the animal problem on this island was not created by locals and their Culture. Locals have never stepped foot in KHS for the betterment of their pet, county codes, or to assist with animal issues on this island.

  7. pointfisha November 25, 2019 10:52 am Reply

    KHS is running a commercial scam under the guise of trying to incentivize spay/neuter/release agenda by giving it a lower fee than the submit-stray, which can end at euthanization.

    It’s a heavy-handed and thinly veiled money grab that only gives two paying options to handle a feral pest.

    The county needs to cancel its contract with KHS and provide some sort of public service option for handling a public nuisance and health issue.

    Think we have a problem now? Just wait until everyone who can’t pay these ridiculous fees has relocated ferals to remote areas for a few years!

  8. doug henry November 25, 2019 1:42 pm Reply

    there should be a bounty on feral cats.

  9. Weasels Ripped My Flesh November 25, 2019 2:17 pm Reply

    “Hmmm, Feral cars…now how does the county handle these??”

    By leaving them to rot along the roadside they were abandoned on?

  10. Dt November 25, 2019 9:20 pm Reply

    How much was spent on all the save our shearwater programs? Only to have the nest sites ravaged in a single night. Money would have been better spent housing wild cats and dogs.

    Feral cats are a problem. Typically starts with one naive person feeding one feral cat.

  11. Michael Mann November 25, 2019 11:32 pm Reply

    I really appreciate all of the comments here. I knew that there would be a lot of people that found this policy to be nonsense, and I really wanted to start a community dialogue about it, because this is a serious problem. Hawaii is an ecological hotzone. Cats are an invasive species which have been unleashed on this island by irresponsible pet owners. We have to stop this some way, and the Humane Society now appears to be making it harder to address the problem. I am not interested in doing something that I know would be considered illegal to try to address this myself. It’s not a thought I can entertain, though I know others can, do, and even act on such thoughts. I don’t fault them for it.

    People claim that euthanasia doesn’t work…I strongly disagree, and don’t understand the “logic” of such a view. In the first year I started trapping cats, I trapped about 50–twelve of these were in the first month alone. After that, there would be long stretches of time where I would see no strays. Then things would start up again. I am certain the Humane Society did not release these cats, nor find adoptive homes for them. If there was a concerted, island-wide effort to fix this problem, it would be fixed very quickly. Trap and release is a very bad joke, and I am beyond tired of hearing about it. Cats are predatory by nature, and even if you feed them, they are still going to affect native birds out of instinct. They do not belong in this environment as free-roaming creatures, and the laws need to reflect this, with stiff penalties for those failing to comply.

    I’m fine with some organization wanting to donate towards such an effort, but I have no delusions there will be any/many such organizations. Who is going to want to donate to euthanising animals? Any cost to the community of remediating the effects of irresponsible pet ownership needs to be a cost that is borne primarily by the people who wish to own pets. It’s the only way to fix the problem. We need to get serious about this problem.

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