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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hawaii House Bill 1516 seeks to allow “any duly incorporated humane society or any duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals” holding an animal to ask a court to order the forfeiture of a person’s animal even before criminal charges are filed.   The American Kennel Club believes that, as currently written, HB 1516 is constitutionally suspect and infringes upon animal owners’ property rights. 

All concerned Hawaii residents are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, which will consider the bill on Friday, March 31, and urge them to not approve HB 1516. 

The American Kennel Club strongly supports the humane treatment of dogs and believes that no dog should be kept in circumstances where its needs cannot be adequately fulfilled.  We strongly believe that those convicted of animal cruelty should be held accountable, including paying for the costs of caring for the animals they mistreated.

Current law provides that in criminal cases, a humane society or SPCA holding an impounded animal may file a petition to the court requesting it issue an order of forfeiture of the pet. The court must conduct a hearing within 14 days, and if it determines that probable cause exists 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 by demonstrating 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 interests.

House Bill 1516 would, however, do away with those protections.  In cases where no charges would be levied against a person; or if charges were made, in cases where a defendant were found not guilty or where charges were dropped, a person could be permanently deprived of their property and no recourse would be available, regardless of never having been proven to have committed a crime or violation. 

In a previous committee hearing, amendments were made to the original version of HB 1516.  However, in an effort to quiet controversy surrounding the bill, an additional concession was made, making the effective date of the bill July 1, 2050.  Despite this extraordinary concession, an effective date 33 years in advance does not relieve AKC’s concerns with this potentially unconstitutional legislation. 

Concerned Hawaii residents are encouraged to contact the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee and urge them to vote against HB 1516. 

  • Send your email in opposition to HB 1516 to  Please feel free to use the information above to craft your message. 
  • Individual committee members enjoy hearing from their constituents.  If your state senator is a member of the Judiciary and Labor Committee, contact them with your concerns about HB 1516.  (You may find your Hawaii legislator by going to and entering your street name in the search box in the upper right corner.) 

    State Senator Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran, Committee Chair (Senate District 5 – Wailuku, Waihe‘e, Kahului) –

    State Senator Karl Rhoads, Committee Vice Chair (Senate District 13 – Dowsett Highlands, Pu‘unui, Nu‘uanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Pālama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown) –

    State Senator Mike Gabbard (Senate District 20 – Kapolei, Makakilo, Portions of Ewa, Kalaeloa and Waipahu) –

    State Senator Donna Mercado Kim (Senate District 14 – Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea) –

    State Senator Laura H. Thielen (Senate District 25 – Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimanalo, Hawai‘i Kai, Portlock) –   

For those residents interested in attending, the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee is scheduled to convene at 9:30AM on Friday, March 31, 2017, in Conference Room 16 of the State Capitol, 415 W. Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI 96813. 

The American Kennel Club thanks our Hawaii federation, the Pacific Pet Alliance, for its ongoing efforts in combating troublesome legislation in Hawaii. 

For more information on HB 1516, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at or the Pacific Pet Alliance at