HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State taxpayers could end up paying big after another dog attack near a Kakaako homeless camp.
Officials say there have been more than 20 such attacks in recent years. The latest one involved a young mother carrying her baby girl.
“I was honestly fighting for my life,” said Brandy Bennett.
One week after Bennett was mauled by a pair of loose dogs in the park outside the Children’s Discovery Center, the bite marks and bruises are still visible.
“They were at both of my legs," she said. "Scratching biting, just trying to drag me to the ground.”
As she was mauled by two, 30-pound dogs, her primary instinct wasn’t her own safety. It was to protect her daughter.
“I held her in the air and just screamed for help,” said Bennett.
Several good Samaritans rushed to her side, pulling the animals off of her.
Witnesses reported seeing both dogs run into a tent nearby.
Bennett says she’s aware of the park’s problems with squatters. But she had no idea this was just the latest in an extensive history of dog attacks.
Over the past three years, the Hawaii Community Development Authority says there have been at least 21 dog attacks in Kakaako Waterfront and Gateway parks.
In the majority of those attacks, victims reported being bitten by multiple dogs.
“That’s an extraordinary number of attacks,” said Mark Davis, a personal injury attorney.
The attorney said that could open up the state to lawsuits, putting taxpayers on the hook every time there’s a payout.
“Generally it’s a question of how that area should be policed and if they’re doing what they ought to do to protect the public,” said Davis.
A spokesperson for the state agency that oversees the parks says it’s taken steps to keep park-goers safe, including hiring 24-hour security.
HCDA spokesman Garett Kamemoto added that this is the first attack that’s been reported in more than a year.
He says a land deal is also in the works that would make it easier to enforce the laws.
“That would take away these jurisdictional lines and allow one group to focus on this area instead of having a patchwork of people trying to solve the problem,” Kamemoto said.
Meanwhile, Bennett says she’s unsure if she’ll ever go back to the park and calls what’s happening to the Discovery Center unfair.
“I feel like my story is deterring people from going to the children’s museum versus the state doing something about the actual problem. And that’s what’s bothering me,” said Bennett.
According to Honolulu police, the two dogs belonged to two separate owners. One of the owners was located and cited for a dangerous dog violation. Officers couldn’t find the second owner.
The dogs and the investigation have been turned over to the Hawaiian Humane Society. Bennett says she was asked to come to the humane society Thursday to identify the dogs.