The cat controversy that has divided the residents of the Ke Nani Kai condominiums is resolved … for now.
As of yesterday, the final four property cats were trapped at the West End condos, removed and — along with another three cats kept at the Aka’ula Cat Garden — are now being flown to a no-kill cat shelter in Billings, Montana called Help for Homeless Pets. The seven cats arrive in Montana tonight.
In total, about 18 cats were removed from the property following a binding arbitration ruling in February that required all the property cats to be removed within 60 days. Some cats were adopted, some taken in by the Aka’ula Cat Garden in Kualapu’u and the others flown to Montana.
“All along we’ve been striving to do the humane thing,” said KNK Board Vice President Everett Pierce. “Frankly, they will be in a better place and will be well taken care of.”
Most of these cats have spent their entire lives on the property. The condo’s Animal Control Committee made sure the cats were all spayed and neutered and had their proper shots. A feeding station was set up around 2003 on the north side of the property to give the cats a home that was removed from the residential areas. With the ACC’s efforts, the population of property cats had been reduced from a high of around 50 to the 18 that were recently removed.
Leading the effort to keep the cats around are Darryl and Jody Canady who have spent almost $30,000 caring for these cats over the past 18 years. Since the 1990s, the condo’s bylaws have not allowed for animals. The Canadys and other cat lovers attempted to have the bylaws changed when the KNK Board adopted new rules in 2011 to restrict the feeding of animals on lanais. The animal advocates at KNK believe the cats offer valuable control of the rodent population on the property. Mice and rats, they say, get into condo units and chew through cables and electrical lines.
When the Canadys disputed the legality of the enforcement of the rules, two other condo owners, Paul and Janet Kennedy, sought mediation. After this attempt failed, the Kennedy’s initiated the effort to enter into binding arbitration with the Board to seek enforcement of the rules. The Canadys also signed on as a party to this arbitration.
The Canadys attended the first day of the arbitration hearing on Maui. But the night before the second day of hearings, the Canadys said they received new documents from the Board’s attorney regarding the proof of laches and estopple, the legal theory that was the center of the Canady’s case. The Canadys did not feel prepared to respond to this new information and did not attend the second day of hearings and subsequently opted out of the arbitration. As a result, arbitrator Charles Crumpton ruled in favor of the Kennedys. “The whole thing was a farce,” said Darryl Canady.
The Canadys believe it is only a small minority of condo owners that are forcing the cats to be removed. “After all these years of caring for cats, we have four people with vendettas removing them,” said Darryl Canady. The Canadys cite a 2011 survey of condo owners that show almost 70 percent favor keeping the property cats.
The Canadys believe the Kennedy’s were seeking retribution for their involvement in two other cases. Jody Canady testified on behalf of condo owners Jim and Nancy Bevill who successfully sued the Board for conducting a pattern of harassment and intimidation against them. Another case involved solar panels that were installed without the proper Maui County permits. The Canadys complained about the glare from the panels, which raised awareness about the lack of permits for the project.
The Kennedys dispute this version of events. “The pro-animal people are trying to sweep the history under the rug,” said Paul Kennedy. “Remember, we voted on this before.”
In 2011, the owners conducted a vote to change the bylaws to allow pets on property, to allow for a feral cat colony on property and to change management of animals from the elected Board to the Animal Control Committee. The average yes votes for the three proposals was 33 percent so all three proposals failed.
Paul Kennedy said they are not against allowing animals as pets but the situation got out of hand. “We are against animals running wild and it got worse and worse. People were feeding animals at multiple locations, cats were drinking from the swimming pool, eating off barbecues,” said Kennedy. He added that there were reports from owners said that cats were jumping on tables and eating food. Cats were fighting at night, which led to complaints, said Kennedy. There was also a concern that other wild animals such as turkeys and peacocks were attracted to the food being left out for cats on lanais.
To help with the cat removal, the Shields Foundation donated $5,000. This money was used up in the transportation of the seven cats, said Pierce. That was money, Jody Canady argues, that could have been used to care for other cats that come on to the property.
And more cats will come back, said Jody Canady. “Even if we trap three a night they will still come on the property,” she said. “The ACC has thrown up its hands, we are not going to spend money to take care of cats. We’re done.”
KNK Board President Brian Brooks does not believe the cats are needed nor will return. “We currently have an effective rodent control trapping program in place; if other cats come on the property it is thought they will not stay if they are not fed, as advised by the Maui County animal control officer, and simply move on,” wrote Brooks.
“We will be right back where we were seven years ago with 50 cats,” Jody Canady said. “Owners will still feed them; you can’t monitor 120 units and think they won’t feed scraps from the table, especially people who rent for a couple of weeks who want to get rid of mice in units.
“Now we’ve left it wide open for other feral cats to take over,” she added. “I’ve seen it happen. I’ve been here 30 years and it will happen all over again. It’s a never ending cycle, you can’t control Mother Nature. You can try but it’s never going to be perfect.”
Two nights ago, Darryl Canady said he saw three cats on the property that he has never seen before.