At Kakaako park, packs of dogs pose safety risk

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some are tied up, while others roam free. There are even puppies.

Leann McCall says it's hard to miss all the dogs at Kakaako Waterfront Park when she takes her daughter to the Children's Discovery Center.

"They're usually up this road up here. And campsites. Everywhere," McCall said.

Although she's never had a problem, others haven't been as lucky. The state confirms at least two people have been bitten in recent dog attacks.

Parkgoer Gerald Kim said he was walking his dog at the park in January when three unleashed dogs went after him and his dog.

Then last month, he witnessed a jogger being chased by a pack of barking dogs.

Jessie Souki, executive director of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, said the matter is a serious one.

"These parks that we manage are for the community to enjoy," Souki said.

HCDA oversees Kakaako Waterfront Park, and has sought help from the Hawaiian Humane Society to remove at least seven dogs. Many of the animals belonged to campers living in the park who ignored citations.

A newly-approved rule also allows the state to ban people from the park if they are cited multiple times for things like unleashed dogs or staking tents.

So far no one has been banned from the park, and HCDA says it wants to educate people before it begins enforcement.

It's also seeking help from police.

"We do have a security company that does some patrolling trying to get folks out, making sure they follow the rules," Souki said. "We are limited by that.  At the end of the day we really need the cooperation of law enforcement to make some of these penalties stick."

Souki said the rules were not created to target the homeless rather to address safety issues at the park.

But some question the wisdom of a crackdown.

"Where are the campers going to go? To our residential areas?" McCall said. "It's going to be the same thing no matter where they are. So I say why don't we get them somewhere to live."

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