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Hawaii nonprofit sees rise in military families abandoning pets before moving off island

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 12:57 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2021 at 4:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An animal rescue non-profit is looking to close off adoptions to military families because they’re worried about people abandoning their animals when they move off island.

Karen Tyson, founder of KAT Charities, says they’ve rescued 41 cats near military bases this year. In the last two weeks, the non-profit rescued two cats, including one that was left in a cage on a trash heap.

“We found out that that was a military family, and we have since learned that they have also let go of the other cat,” Tyson said. “So it’s out roaming free, so both cats have been abandoned, unfortunately.”

Tyson encourages owners to spay and neuter their pets.

She says if you absolutely have to re-home a pet, take them to a shelter or non-profit.

The issue of pets being abandoned is a nationwide issue.

But Tyson said the problem is worse with the military community because of reassignments. She adds that KAT Charities offers services to help, but some are not interested.

“So our partner rescue said that they would be willing to help that family and take the kitty and board it until they could get housing because that was their excuse why they couldn’t take the cat,” said Tyson.

Tyson wants to see the military take a more active role in keeping pets with their owners.

Members of the military community, meanwhile, say the issue is complex.

“We actually had to have her stay with my husband’s parents for a good while, until we could afford to get her out here,” said Aaron Ortiz-White, whose husband is in the military.

He said his husband got orders to move to the island a few years ago.

“I do know that the military don’t cover a lot,” said Ortiz-White. “They don’t cover anything for like the pets and you know those are our fur babies, so we want them out here.”

“So it honestly took roughly about five months to get them ready to come to the island, and then just make sure that they’re ready,” said Anahi Mendoza, a military spouse who moved to Hawaii from Florida.

Hawaii News Now reached out to multiple commands.

Only Navy Region Hawaii responded with a statement:

“The Navy encourages its service members to value the community where they live and engage in efforts to improve it. Our sailors actively volunteer in their communities, including at animal shelters. The Navy also encourages sailors to uphold any obligation they enter in to.”

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.