Dogs under evaluation in animal cruelty investigation

Dogs attack a feral pig in a "training" video previously posted on Facebook.
Dogs attack a feral pig in a "training" video previously posted on Facebook.
Keith Kaneshiro
Keith Kaneshiro

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A veterinarian from the Hawaiian Humane Society spent part of Friday evaluating the medical condition of two dogs seized from a Waianae home as part of an animal cruelty investigation.

A video posted by a teenage boy on his Facebook page showed the two dogs attacking a pig in a small pen in Waianae, an extreme form of training the dogs to hunt pigs in the wild.  The video led to an animal cruelty investigation by the Humane Society.

Thursday, the Humane Society issued three misdemeanor citations to a 20-year old man for animal cruelty, while three juvenile boys face prosecution as well.

One of the boys who owned the dogs surrendered them to Humane Society investigators and the dogs might be held in evidence as part of the case, according to Jacque LeBlanc, a spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Humane Society.

The dogs might go to foster care families if the society determines they need rehabilitation and they will eventually be put up for adoption, LeBlanc said.

The pig was in good condition and investigators left him in the care of his owner, an uncle of one of the suspects, who said he was at work and was "mortified" about what happened, LeBlanc said.

"We will look at the evidence and we will charge according to the evidence.  Despite what public opinion will be, if there's evidence to charge, we will charge," said Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.

Because the pig in this case is considered livestock or wild, and is not a pet, torturing or tormenting it is only a misdemeanor.  If the pig was someone's pet, the same treatment could amount to felony charges.

So Kaneshiro wants to expand the felony definition to cover all animals.

"Because the basic concept is being humane to animals, regardless of whether it's a pet or not," Kaneshiro said.

On another animal issue, Kaneshiro hopes the legislature passes a bill this year that failed to advance last year, regulating puppy breeding facilities.

"Because there's the need to give the Humane Society the tools to go into these puppy mills and see what's being done," he said.

Kaneshiro said cases like the Waimanalo puppy mill that Hawaii News Now first reported in February of 2011 could be found much sooner or avoided if the new regulations are approved by lawmakers.

"We want to prevent the conduct instead of catching it after the fact when the animals are tortured or injured and we have to come in.  We want to make sure they've been treated humanely from the very beginning, so there's no need for prosecution," Kaneshiro said.

The pig video brought condemnation from several quarters. Oliver Lunasco, president of the Pig Hunters Association of Oahu, said, "We don't condone what these young kids do.  Even I feel sorry for the pig."

"It takes time to train a dog properly, sending them out with older trained dogs," said Lunasco, a Waialua resident who's been hunting pigs for more than 50 years.

"We try to put the pig out of its misery as soon as we can," he said.

"I was horrified, but sadly, not surprised, because we know that this goes on," said Cathy Goegell, president of Animal Rights Hawaii.  "This is what some people, some twisted people, consider fun."

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now.  All rights reserved.