By Leland Kim
WAIMANALO (KHNL) - A high-profile bill making its way to Governor Linda Lingle's desk is a felony-level animal cruelty law. Both the house and senate passed it earlier this week.
It's historic because it would be the first law of its type in Hawaii, but it's historic for other reasons.
It's a story we've been following from the beginning.
Three Hawaii pet pigs killed on private property in less than a year. This animal cruelty bill includes pigs among the protected group of pets. Both current and former pet pig owners say it's long overdue.
Many different animals call this Waimanalo farm home: roosters, sheep, and even pet pigs. Glenn Martinez owns four Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. He's concerned about poachers.
"And people drive by and they're hungry or they're having a luau. It's a lot of temptation," said Martinez.
But this new animal cruelty law means harsher penalties.
That means it could be a felony to torture and kill pet pigs like Kelsey. Now, it's all up to Governor Lingle.}
"We hope she signs it," said Martinez. "To not sign it would be to belittle it."
University of Hawaii law professor Jon Van Dyke, whose pet pig Gonzo was killed last month, agrees.
"It recognizes that these are creatures with rights, with the right to live, the right to live without suffering and pain," he said.
And Martinez hopes this new bill deters would-be pig poachers.
"We got people in Waimanalo that have been arrested 38 times, 38 times on misdemeanors," he said. "If it's a felony, it'll cost a little more to get a lawyer. The whole thing escalates to a higher level and it'll slow down."
Nothing can bring Porky, Kipu, and Gonzo back. But their families hope this bill will spare others from going through the loss of a beloved pet.
"This bill is a memorial to Gonzo in many ways and certainly a wonderful thing to have passed," said Prof. Van Dyke.