Hawaii Action Needed: Committee to Hear Multiple Problematic Dog-Related Bills Tomorrow, Feb. 3

The Hawaii House of Representative’s Agriculture Committee is scheduled to consider several dog-related proposals on Friday, February 3, that severely restrict the rights of responsible dog owners.

The Hawaii House of Representative’s Agriculture Committee is scheduled to consider several dog-related proposals on Friday, February 3, that severely restrict the rights of responsible dog owners. The American Kennel Club urges all concerned Hawaii residents to call and email members of the House Agriculture Committee to express concerns about to these bills as currently written

•    House Bill 1516 – HB 1516 seeks to vastly expand the cases in which a humane society may petition a court for forfeiture of an animal.  

Current law provides that in criminal cases, a humane society or SPCA holding an impounded animal may file a petition to the court requesting the court issue an order of forfeiture of the pet.  The court must conduct a hearing within 14 days, and if it determines that if probable cause exists that that the defendant cruelly treated the animal, the court shall order the forfeiture of ownership of the animal.  Defendants may preserve their ownership rights through the pendency of the criminal case against them by posting a security bond or if they demonstrate that a proper care alternative has been arranged for the pet.  Further the court may waive the requirement a defendant post security for good cause shown.  These provisions are generally considered to protect a defendant’s due process rights and ensure that a defendant is not erroneously deprived of their ownership rights.  

HB 1516 would remove the requirement that cases be criminal in nature, and would remove the procedural protections currently provided defendants.  For these reasons, the AKC opposes HB 1516 as introduced.

•    House Bill 185 – HB 185 seeks to create new licensing and oversight laws for certain dog breeders/owners.  Specifically, the bill would apply to “dog breeders”, which include those who (1) for compensation or provide, sells or offers for sale, via any means including the internet, 25 or more of the offspring of breeding female dogs in any one-year period and is engaged in the business of breeding intact female dogs; (2) owns/harbors 20 or more intact female dogs over six months of age intended for breeding; or (3) owns/harbors 30 intact dogs over six months of age intended for breeding on the premises.  Those dog breeders who are qualified would have to be licensed by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, which would include submitting a completed license application, a fee, and a pre-license inspection of facilities.  Licensees would be subject to inspections at any time during regular business hours.  The Director of Commerce and Consumers Affairs is empowered to appoint designees to help enforce some provisions of the law, but without limiting whom designees may be.  The director shall also adopt rules to administer the program.  The bill also provides the director with extensive enforcement powers.  In addition to current penalties, HB 185 also provides that violators of the state’s first or second degree animal cruelty statutes will be subject to prohibitions of animal ownership or contact for at least five years, including those who should be licensed as dog breeders but are not.  
The AKC has many concerns with HB 185.  First, the term “dog breeders” sounds all-encompassing, but actually applies only to a subset of dog breeders.  We encourage changing the term to “large-scale dog breeders” to more accurately reflect the intentions and provisions of the legislation.  Second, the extensive enforcement powers offered the Director of Commerce and Consumers Affairs may run counter to Procedural Due Process requirements.  We encourage amendments to reasonably limit the enforcement powers provided that ensure that licensees’ due process rights are not infringed upon.  
Other Measures of concern include:
•    House Bill 55Under current law, anyone who tethers, fastens, ties, or restrains a dog to a doghouse, tree, fence, or any other stationary object is already subject to a second degree cruelty charge. Among other provisions, HB 55 further provides that anyone who uses a trolley, pulley, cable, or running line designed to attached to a dog to two stationary objects will also be subject to a second-degree cruelty charge in the following problematic instances: 
o    The dog is under the age of six months unless engaged in a supervised activity;
o    If the tether is shorter than 10 feet in length unless engaged in a supervised activity.
HB 55 also classifies tethering violations, including: for first violations, a fine of not less than $100; and for subsequent violations, fines of not less than $300 or up to six months imprisonment.  
•    House Bill 151 – HB 151 creates a new cruelty statute specific to tethering.  It would make it unlawful for a person to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly restrain a dog by tethering, attaching, fastening, or tying a dog to any stationary object in cases where the dog is unsupervised or supervised by a person under the age of 14 years old; where the dog is under the age of 12 months; or where the dog is sick, injured, or in need of veterinary care.  

The bill would also prohibit the use of a collar or harness that is choke, pinch, or prong type; not specifically designed or property fitted for the dog; does not exceed the circumference of the dog’s neck by at least one inch; or is fitted primarily or entirely on the dog’s head.  

HB 151 would prohibit the use of a tether in the following circumstances:
o    The tether is not specifically designed for restraining dogs; 
o    Tethers that are less than five times the length of the dog or that are not of a reasonable length given the size of the dog and available space; 
o    Is of a weight or incorporates weights so disproportionate to the size of dog to cause overloading; 
o    Lacks a swivel on both ends or contains tangles;
o    Fails to allow the tethered dog to move at least eight feet in any direction; 
o    Allows the dog to reach the property of another person, public property, or an object or hazard that poses a risk to the dog; 
o    Exposes the dog to extreme/inclement weather or hazardous environments; or
o    Denies the dog access to water, shelter, shade, or dry ground free of unsanitary conditions.  

Finally, the bill would outlaw enclosures that cause a dog to spend the majority of its time if the enclosure violates the state’s cruelty statutes, consists of or includes any electronic system for pet containment that lacks a physical barrier to prevents people or other animals from entering the enclosure; or consists of or includes a crate container designed for the transport of a live dog.  

The AKC is concerned with the last provision regarding travel crates.  Instead of a blanket prohibition, the AKC believes a better alternative is to use performance-based standards that would allow the use of any humane primary enclosure type that would allow for appropriate space for the dog maintained and for the amount of time it is kept therein.  

HB 151 also provides both exceptions to the tethering provisions, including when hand-held leashes are used, and for penalties. 

For more information: 
View AKC’s issue analysis about criminal procedure and civil forfeiture
View AKC’s Key Issues page for more information and talking points on breeder restrictions 
View AKC’s issue analysis on the question of tethering 

What you can do: 
Hawaii residents concerned with the provisions of these bills should call and email the members of the House Agriculture Committee and express their concerns.  

Representative Richard P. Creagan, Chair (Dist. 5 – Naalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakelua, Kailua-Kona)
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 331
PHONE: 818-586-9605
EMAIL: repcreagan@capitol.hawaii.gov  

Representative Lynn DeCoite, Vice Chair (Dist. 13 – Haiku, Jana, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Nahiku, Paia, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Molokini)  
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 324
PHONE: 808-586-6790
EMAIL: repdecoite@capitol.hawaii.gov

Representative Cedric Asuega Gates (Dist. 44 – Waianae, Makaha, Makua, Maili)
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 331
PHONE: 808-586-8460
EMAIL: repgates@capitol.hawaii.gov 

Representative Kaniela Ing (Dist. 11 – Kihei, Wailea, Makena)  
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 427
PHONE: 808-586-8525
EMAIL: reping@capitol.hawaii.gov 

Representative Matthew S. LoPresti (Dist. 41 – Ewa, Hoakalei, Ocean Point)  
Hawaii State Capitol, Room. 328
PHONE: 808-586-6080
EMAIL: replopresti@capitol.hawaii.gov 

Representative Gregg Takayama (Dist. 34 – Pearl City, Waimalu, Pacific Palisades) 
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 323 
PHONE: 808-586-6340
EMAIL: reptakayama@capitol.hawaii.gov  

Representative Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Minority Leader (Dist. 50 – Kailua, Kaneohe Bay) 
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 443
PHONE: 808-586-6480
EMAIL: repthielen@capitol.hawaii.gov 

For those interested in attending Friday’s hearing, it will be held at 8:30AM, in Conference Room 312 at the State Capitol, 415 South Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI 96813.  
For more information, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at doglaw@akc.org; or our Hawaii federation, the Pacific Pet Alliance, at pacificpetalliance@gmail.com.