Complaints on puppy farm go back years

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

WAIMANALO (HawaiiNewsNow) - More people are coming forward about the puppy mill case out of Waimanalo. Tonight we have exclusive new pictures from the farm that show the filthy conditions go back several years.

The Luke family has owned the puppy farm for about three years and former workers and neighbors claim conditions have always been bad.

The video and pictures were taken by a former employee in 2008 when several dogs were kept in the garage of the house with dog kennels stacked up on top of each other, puppies kept in dirty spaces and others didn't see the light of day.

"It was just so sad hearing some of those stories first hand from the people that have worked there," said Kitty Nichols, neighbor.

Kitty Nichols lives right across the street from the puppy farm.  She's spoken with various farm employees who told her the horror stories.

Nichols is also the neighbor who made the barking dog noise complaint Monday morning that prompted the Hawaiian Humane Society to remove more than 153 dogs.

"I talked with Vernon Luke the end of January and said starting February 1st every time I hear those dogs I am going to file a complaint I am going to call the police and he goes I know we had some bad employees. Dave (Becker, the farm manager) came over to my house and introduced himself and said, 'it's all going to be good. It's a mess over there we're going to clean things up.' Never happened," said Nichols.

She's says she's complained 30 times over the years and is thrilled the dogs have finally been taken away.

"It's been so hard because of the laws to really get in there and see what's happening because the Humane Society comes out all the time but they can't seem to violate them because they're stuck outside," said Nichols.

We weren't able to reach the Luke's for comment but we do know as of today their property has racked up $8,000 in fines and it goes up $150 every day.  The Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting says three buildings on the farm were made without permits and are located within 100 feet of the property line without soundproofing or air conditioning.  Art Challacombe, DPP Chief of Customer Service, says if the Luke's don't pay the fines it will lead to a lien on the property and possibly foreclosure. He also says just because the animals have been taken away, the zoning and building code violations are still there and says the city will fight them on the violations and see the fines are paid.

Honolulu city councilmember Ikaika Anderson also says the city will work to remedy the situation.

"We are going to stay on top of it. We're going to do everything we can to resolve it. If we need to strengthen the land use ordinance from our end that is something that is being considered by my office right now," said Anderson.

There's already been a lawyer change in the case. Farm Manager Dave Becker hired attorney Victor Bakke to represent him but a day later they have part ways.

Bakke says there is a potential conflict of interest.

Becker says he was upset with some of the comments Bakke made saying they were "untrue" and "made him look worse."

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