By Leland Kim
HONOLULU (KHNL) - A Hawaii senator introduces a bill calling for tougher animal cruelty laws. It's in response to a number of high profile cases in our islands where animals were brutally killed.
Senator Clayton Hee (D - Kahuku, Laie, Kaaawa, and Kaneohe) proposed the bill Tuesday afternoon. It calls for felony penalties for cruelty to pet animals. It is one of five animal cruelty bills that may come up this legislative session.
Last October, Porky the Pig was stabbed to death in Mililani. It is one of four brutal animal killings on our islands in less than three months. Just over a week ago, three sheep were beaten and killed on Kauai. Some worry this type of behavior could signal bigger problems.
"People who are cruel to animals, it often escalates to human violence," said Pamela Burns, president and CEO of the Hawaiian Humane Society.
Tuesday, Senator Hee introduced a bill, calling for felony penalties for cruelty to pet animals.
"I don't think anyone disagrees that that kind of random killing cannot be condoned and should be punished," said Senator Hee. "The tricky part is trying to figure out how to make the punishment fit the crime."
The bill covers torture, torment, beating or starving of any pet animal.
"We're absolutely delighted that Senator Hee has introduced this bill," said Burns. "It's very important here that we get into the law here felony levels of cruelty to animals."
The bill defines "pet animal" as a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, domestic rodent, or caged bird. It doesn't cover sheep like those killed last week on Kauai, pet pigs like Porky, horses, or other livestock.
"The difficulty in a bill like this is distinguishing between pet and livestock," said Senator Hee. "And that's going to be a sticky part of the debate."
The bill can still be amended, and discussions on the issue will continue in committee. The Hawaiian Humane Society said a strong message needs to be sent to those thinking about hurting animals.