A senseless act of animal cruelty has sent shockwaves through Matata.
While tethered to the deck of the Rangatihi Kohanga Reo and with nowhere to run, Snowball the pet goat was mown down by two different firearms last weekend.
One is believed to be an air rifle according to Senior Constable Kevin Raynes.
“She was tied onto a rope attached to the deck of the Kohanga, she couldn’t get away from these people, she couldn’t hide from the bullets,” owner Carla Huxtable said.
Snowball was like a child and a sibling to Mrs Huxtable and her family, and the loss has brought pain and confusion to a peaceful community who now fear for the safety of themselves and their pets.
“Snowball was like a child to me; she was like one of my babies and so whoever has done this has taken my child away from me.
“I’ve had Snowball since she was four days old, she was so friendly and that’s the reason why I let the kohanga look after her… to let the little kids intermingle with an animal that they they’re not used to seeing all the time.”
Mrs Huxtable said Snowball was not the only pet who had been a victim of gunshots, and regardless of whether these incidents are related, she was determined for Snowball to be the last.
“Snowball is not the only incident that has happened in this community, but for some reason it has taken snowball’s death to make people wake up and realise that this isn’t right,” Mrs Huxtable said.
“I want to take a stand for everyone and make a point that we won’t tolerate this in our community.”
Reports from members of the community have said in the past few months multiple cats and one dog have been shot dead, however Mr Raynes said this incident was different.
Mr Raynes and Mrs Huxtable expressed their disgust and disbelief that such a violent act could be done on a marae at a kohanga, a place of safety and learning for local children.
“It so wrong, especially in a kohanga where kids are meant to feel safe and protected.
“I’m just absolutely disgusted, if you’re going to do that at a place of learning, at least take her away so the kids didn’t have to see it.
“They’re supposed to be safe at their kohanga, or kindy or school, and these people have made a point that nobody is safe anywhere they go,” Mrs Huxtable said.
Mr Raynes is adamant that the community can help in identifying the offender, or offenders, responsible for such a heinous act.
“The only way we can find who did this would be through the community and public information.”
“Forensically we wouldn’t be able to find the offender, so it’s only if somebody’s seen something or if someone has told another person about the incident and then we’ll be able to find a line of enquiry through that way,” Mr Raynes said.
When visiting the kohanga and meeting with Mrs Huxtable and her children, it was clear that through the tears of young tamariki that something needs to be done.
If you have information relating to this incident, please contact the Whakatane police station immediately.