Proposal would expand Hawaii’s animal cruelty laws

Incorrect chaining of dogs could become illegal later this year if a pair of animal cruelty bills pass the state legislature.

Two bills, Senate Bill 677 and House Bill 633, add tether dogs too narrowly to the state’s list of second-degree animal cruelty offenses.

Current Hawaiian law prohibits tethering a dog to a stationary object using choke, pinch, or claw collars, which are devices that cause discomfort or pain to the animal if it bumps into it. to coercion.

New offenses listed in the bills include the use of carts, pulleys or other systems to tie a dog to two stationary objects in a way that prevents the dog from eating or drinking, and categorically prohibits the dog from eating or drinking. use of heavy chains if they prevent the dog from moving. freely.

The bills also prohibit dogs under 6 months of age from being tethered or restrained unless they are under the direct supervision of their owner or keeper.

“This bill is pretty much for owners who keep their dogs outside,” said Senator Lorraine Inouye, co-initiator of the Senate bill. “It’s still cruelty to animals… and I don’t think they’re true dog lovers.”

The bills were first introduced in 2019, but have failed to gain traction. In their previous incarnation, they also contained language that would have made shock collars illegal, but that provision was removed during this year’s legislative session.

Mary Rose Krijgsman, founder of Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kurtistown, said that not only can such inappropriate restrictions potentially hurt the dog, but they can condition the animals to become more aggressive.

“What’s going on is the dog doesn’t feel safe,” Krijgsman said. “And since he doesn’t have enough freedom, he can become more aggressive. You often see it here.

Krijgsman said seeing poorly restrained dogs clearly in distress was a big factor in his decision to found the sanctuary 21 years ago.

“It’s endemic all over the island,” Krijgsman said. “People do it because it’s the easiest option. Building a fence is difficult.

The introduction to the current bill clarifies that the Legislative Assembly does not intend to make tethering illegal and “recognizes that it is possible for individuals to tie or restrain dogs in a humane manner”. However, Inouye said he has received complaints from people who believe the bill is unfairly harsh.

“The bill can still be amended if necessary,” said Inouye. “But I think it’s something that needs to be adopted.”

Several other bills in this year’s legislative session prohibit all other inhumane treatment of animals.

A Senate bill prohibits the use of castration bands – tourniquets or rubber bands placed around an animal’s genitals that cause tissue to shrivel and fall due to blood loss – to sterilize pets, while a House bill prohibits cruel confinement of animals and prohibits the sale of animals confined in this manner.

“These animals can be kept in very appalling conditions,” Krijgsman said. “What we humans do to animals sometimes I just can’t figure out.”

Email Michael Brestovansky at [email protected]

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