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Activists sink teeth into dog tethering legislation

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct information about state Rep. Richard Creagan and information about Angie Ali’s petition, which began late last year. Ali says she also contacted Rep. Cindy Evans (D- North Kohala, South Kohala, Kona) to help get the tethering language inserted.

Local animal rights activists are rallying behind legislation which they say is their last shot this year to bolster Hawaii’s dog tethering regulations.

Senate Bill 700, under newly proposed amendments, would create a second-degree animal cruelty charge for chaining a dog for more than 24 hours on a tie shorter than 10 feet, unless the dog is “engaged in supervised activity” or being transported.

The bill would prohibit tethering, fastening, tying or restraining a dog to any stationary object which includes a doghouse, fence or tree. It also bans tying a dog using a trolley, pulley, cable or running line which attaches the animal between two stationary objects.

It would prohibit chaining a dog under six-months old and ban an owner from denying the chained dog access to water, shelter, shade or necessary sustenance.

The bill says chaining dogs for an extended period of time is “cruel and inhumane” and can cause animals to become more anxious and aggressive. Restricting the practice will reduce dog attack incidents, the bill says.

“Chaining dogs is a safety hazard for people — they are more likely to bite,” said Angie Ali, head a Puna-based animal rescue called Amanie K9. “ … There are more states now adopting (animal cruelty) laws like wildfire. When it’s time, it’s time, and it’s time we’re not going to have any more mauled children or any more of those things. It’s time for Hawaii to be next.”

Lawmakers had proposed several bills this year which would have similarly strengthened tethering laws. None moved forward. Late last year, Ali started a petition asking lawmakers to continue vetting the issue. She said she’s part of a “hui of eight nonprofit groups” islandwide working to see a tethering law passed.

Senate Bill 700 primarily was written to strengthen animal cruelty protections for Hawaii’s indigenous birds. Ali said earlier this year she contacted state Rep. Richard Creagan, D- South Kona, Ka’u, and Evans who agreed to help insert dog tethering amendments into the bill.

Creagan said Friday he’s unsure if dog tethering additions will remain — they haven’t yet been heard. The bill was referred to two House committees. As of Friday, no hearings had been scheduled.

“People have different attitudes about animals,” Creagan said. “Basically, they are considered property. But animals in my view have a higher status in our society than just property and we don’t want people to abuse them.”

Last year, state Sen. Russell Ruderman, D-Puna, sponsored three animal cruelty bills which would have similarly addressed dog tethering, among other things. Ruderman had introduced them upon request of Jane Wiedlin, a musician and member of the band The Go-Go’s, who was an island resident at the time. None of Ruderman’s bills passed.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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