Puppy mill owners fight custody case in court

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The dogs involved in the Waimanalo puppy mill case were the center of attention in circuit court today.  It's not the criminal case just yet instead today's fight questioned if the defendants should have to forfeit the animals.

Before the hearing the Hawaiian Humane Society reviewed paperwork.  The defendant read the paper.

Vernon Luke was in court for Bradley International, the company facing the animal cruelty charges for 153 dogs that were seized from their farm in Waimanalo back in February.

The Hawaiian Humane Society is trying to get ownership of the dogs.  There are 28 witnesses on the list to testify including three veterinarians that treated the animals after they were seized.

"My opinion is that they had been caged for basically their entire life. Their muscular skeletal integrity is somewhat sub optimal because of the lack of routine exercise and activity," said Dan Severson, VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital Medical Director, which treated 50-60 of the dogs.

Veterinarian Ann Sakamoto went out to the Waimanalo farm the day the dogs were seized and took her own photos which were used as evidence.

"When you were there did you see any clean place for the dog to rest outside of the basket?" asked Kevin Sumida, Hawaiian Humane Society Attorney.

"No," responded Sakamoto.

She agreed in the defense follow up questioning not all the kennels were horrible but she also pointed out that living conditions did affect their health.

"Many of the enclosures there wasn't really any clean space for the dogs to step on," said Ann Sakamoto, VCA Kaneohe Veterinarian.  "There was fecal matter all over the ground and the dogs seemed to be trying to avoid it but couldn't avoid the fecal matter and urine."

Jason Burks, defense attorney, also noted that some conditions like hip dysplasia are hereditary and are not caused by living conditions.

However Sumida rebutted with questioning that showed it does require veterinarian care to prevent suffering.

The verdict can go various ways.  Each dog is treated as a separate charge so Judge Glenn Kim could rule to forfeit all, none or some of the dogs.  If Bradley International loses the case they could lose the dogs and possibly pay the boarding costs.  If the defendants win this case it could be an indication how the criminal case would turn out as well.  That is scheduled to take place in October.

The forfeiture hearing will continue Friday.

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