Exclusive: Facebook video prompts animal cruelty investigation

A shot from the video previously posted on Facebook
A shot from the video previously posted on Facebook
Cathy Goegell
Cathy Goegell

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaiian Humane Society has begun an animal cruelty investigation after receiving a complaint about a video posted on Facebook that shows two dogs attacking a pig in a small, confined space.

A man told Hawaii News Now he discovered the video on Facebook and turned it over to Animal Rights Hawaii and the Hawaiian Humane Society Wednesday.  The video shows several teenage boys at a property in Waianae putting the dogs in a pen with the pig, presumably trying to train them to hunt pigs in the wild.

The dogs go after the pig, biting it in the face, ear and mouth area while the pig squeals in pain.  One of the boys, identified by a relative as a 17-year-old high school student, jumped into the pen and held the pig by its haunches, so it was unable to move as one of the dogs bit its face and ears.

"I was horrified, but sadly, not surprised, because we know that this goes on," said Cathy Goegell, president of Animal Rights Hawaii.  She wants hunting with dogs to be banned statewide.

"Hunting with dogs is extremely cruel and the process of training the dogs is horrible," Goegell said. "This is what some people, some twisted people, consider fun."

The video also shows the dogs in danger, as the terrified pig fights back, and one of the canines falls on his back.

"We opened a case yesterday and have been working intensely on this investigation," said Jacque LeBlanc, community relations director of the Hawaiian Humane Society.

Humane Society investigators spent several hours at the Waianae property Thursday and interviewed four suspects as well as the pig's  owner, LeBlanc said.

Investigators cited a 20-year-old man with three misdemeanor counts of  animal cruelty.  The citation, which requires he appear in court,  carries a maximum $2,000 fine and/or up to one year behind bars.

Cases against three juvenile teenage boys will be forwarded to the juvenile unit of the city prosecutor's office, LeBlanc said.

The two dogs were surrendered to the Humane Society for medical examinations, she said.  The video showed what appeared to be scars on  the back of one of the dogs.

The pig's owner, who's an uncle of one of the suspects, told investigators he was at work, didn't know what happened and was "mortified" when he found out about the incident, LeBlanc said.

The pig is in good condition, she said.

The case does not amount to a felony because it did not cause serious bodily injuries to any of the animals, LeBlanc said.

The suspects violated the animal cruelty law because they intentionally tortured and tormented the animals, she said.

"We are taking this case very seriously.  Intentional cruelty to animals and the lack of empathy of these people is disturbing," LeBlanc said.

Experienced pig hunters said the boys were improperly training their hunting dogs, because they need to learn how to find and track pigs in the wilderness, not just how to bite and attack them.

"That's not the right way to train them," said Rodney Jose of Wahiawa, a pig hunter for 50 years. "The proper way for them to learn is when you send 5- or 7-month old puppies into the wild with older, experienced dogs and they learn from the older ones.  You don't just send them in there to beat up on something."

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.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the video features the pig squealing in pain as one of the dogs bites its mouth.

A source said there are several things about this case that may complicate and slow the investigation.

First, the video posted by a 17-year-old boy on his Facebook page, was not time and date stamped, and has since been removed from his site, a source said.

The city prosecutor's office is working with the Hawaiian Humane Society to investigate the case.

"If our office determines the juveniles should be charged, a charging document is filed with the family court probation office," said Dave Koga, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office. "The probation office then determines whether the matter will go to trial or be resolved in another manner, such as community service, restitution, counseling or participation in youth outreach programs."

"Obviously, this is in violation of the cruelty to animals law," Goegell said, because she said it's "baiting," using one animal as "bait" to train other animals.

"Baiting has gone on for centuries.  Bull baiting, bear baiting.  But this is the 21st century and in Hawaii, we don't need to have our young people learning how to be cruel to animals," said Goegell.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.