Animal rescuers refused access to site of Hawaiian fire to find surviving cats

Animal rescue groups on the Hawaiian island of Maui are being refused access to the disaster zone to search for surviving cats. The report comes from the Daily Mail in the UK. They say that it is an exclusive. Animal rescue groups are insistent that pet cats are still hiding out in Lahaina wreckage but Hawaii’s top military officer has said that their claim is “an absolute lie”. They are, therefore, being refused access to the burnt-out site to check for domestic cats who have survived.

Cat survived the Maui wildfire. Image: Facebook.
Cat survived the Maui wildfire. Image: Facebook.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

They add that, last week, Hawaii’s adjutant general Kenneth Hara denied claims that thousands of stray animals remain trapped in the area. But veterinarians and local animal activists have told the Daily Mail that several surviving cats have been found in the wreckage in recent days.

The fire swept through the town of Lahaina more than two weeks ago. Many animals were rescued and many died. Many people died as well. But I’m told that dozens of household pets mainly cats are believed to be hanging onto life in the wreckage with no animal rescuers to help them.

Their efforts, as mentioned, are being stymied by the intransigent authorities. Animal advocates say that some cats have emerged and found their way to feeding stations.

A veterinarian, Maria Jose from the Big Island said that, “What our government is holding on to is that there are no animals left alive, and that’s just not true.”

She spent the weekend after the fire rescuing companion animals from the Leialaii Hawaiian Homeland subdivision and along Ainakea Road. She and other workers were eventually kicked out of the area.

The authorities say that they can’t see any animals but those who know better argue that it doesn’t surprise them because you’re not going to find them unless you are looking very carefully as they are hiding. And they are weak and therefore they are staying put. Finding and rescuing them is a job for trained individuals.

The veterinarian said that she had treated several burned animals that were then transferred to the local Humane Society. She said that, “The ones I saw on the 17th were burned, dehydrated and had sepsis infections. The fact that nobody has gotten these animals out in a timely fashion is what’s killing them. I can’t explain how miserable the conditions are in the burn zone.”

She added that, “The animals injured in the fire at this point are not going to make it, but there are other animals that are still hiding out there, without food and water. They can’t survive therefore long.”

She believes that any dogs which have not been rescued and which survived the fire and which are also less likely to hide, are already dead but cats are arguably better at surviving these sorts of conditions and therefore some may be out there. The old adage that domestic cats have nine lives comes into effect.

I guess that the argument why animal rescuers can’t go into the site is because it is hazardous. Fair enough. But surely, they can find a way around the problems with perhaps employing specialists or perhaps the army assisting them and accompanying them and providing them with the requisite equipment. Perhaps, the area is potentially toxic and the military want to protect people from themselves in entering the area and breathing toxic fumes. I understand that but there might be a compromise way which works for the cats and which protects the rescuers.

Update: a day or so later the authorities relented and allowed access under considerable pressure.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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