Cats, Kittens, and Other Animals Inhumanely Confined
Animal Advocate Inc. has documented the activities of Honolulu’s “Cat Lady,” a homeless woman who has taken up permanent residence within the public right-of-way at the corner of Ahui and Ilalo Streets (near the State Department of Health building) in Kakaako.
For about ten (10) years, a homeless woman has been confining cats, kittens, and other animals in small carriers, traps, shopping carts, and cages. Some of our photos are included in this web posting. The animal cruelty and inhumane confinement must not be allowed to continue.
We have documented as many as 19 animals at one time. The animals are confined 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are never let out of the cages. Their lives are spent entirely in small, dirty cages. We have documented flies and feces, and this also represents an ongoing public health issue.
We have obtained City and State records showing that a great many citizens have called, written, and e-mailed the Hawaiian Humane Society (“HHS”) to express their concerns about this inhumane confinement over a period of many years. However, the HHS has not removed the animals from the woman’s possession.
We have photographs and video footage, and have produced a 16-minute investigative/undercover video showing the animals living in continuous confinement in traps/cages/carriers within and around the carts. We have observed that the Cat Lady displays the classic signs of animal hoarding behavior.
The film premiered on ‘Olelo Community Television on February 5, 2009, and is showing periodically – check your local listings.
You can also view the video, entitled “The Failure of the Hawaiian Humane Society” in its entirety here on our website as well. To view the video, please go to the VIDEOS page of this website.
Hawaiian Humane Society Refuses Our Requests for Assistance
After consultation with staff attorneys from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), a major U.S. animal advocacy organization, regarding interpretation and application of the laws, we sent a letter (May 8, 2008) to Ms. Pamela Burns, Executive Director of the Hawaiian Humane Society (HHS), expressing our belief that the animals are being kept in cruel conditions, in violation of Section 711-1109, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS). In our May 8, 2008 letter, we asked Ms. Burns to tell us why, specifically, the HHS does not believe they have the authority to confiscate the animals under the provisions of Section 711-1109, HRS. We asked this because we wanted to try to have new legislation drafted and passed if that is necessary to deal with this situation.
But we wonder why HHS has never introduced new legislation to address any inadequacies in the existing law as we have tried to do? We also requested the assistance of the HHS in removing the animals from the woman’s possession. We offered to take the adult animals or any of the animals if they cannot be adopted through HHS, to make sure that each one receives a good home. We made it clear to Ms. Burns that we do not want any of the animals to be euthanized. To date, we have received no response from Ms. Burns and the Hawaiian Humane Society.
Please click here read our original letter to Pamela Burns of the HHS.
Having never received a response to our May 8, 2008 letter, we sent a second letter to Ms. Burns on May 21, 2008.
Please click here to read our second letter (and the HHS has not responded to this letter, either).
HHS Also Refuses Our Request for Records
We decided to request the HHS records of the visits the Humane Officers have made to the Cat Lady over the last 10 years. So, on June 27, 2008, we submitted a formal request to Ms. Burns to produce copies of any and all complaints and the disposition of such complaints, pertaining to the homeless woman and the animals in her possession, and any and all notes, investigative reports, photographs, e-mails, telephone messages, and all other documents regarding the woman and the animals she keeps. It’s important to point out that we had also requested records from the City Department of Customer Services (DCS) and the State Department of Health (DOH), Vector Control Branch, on June 27, 2008. We find it interesting that both of these agencies provided copies of the documents we requested, but the HHS is fighting our request. The documents we obtained from DCS and DOH show that citizen complaints have been made about the cats’ living conditions since at least June 5, 2007. What are Ms. Burns and the HHS trying to hide from the public?
Click here to read our letter to Ms. Burns.
On July 10, 2008, Ms. Burns responded by denying our request for records, the only letter we have ever received. In the denial letter Ms. Burns stated that our request for records is “without foundation,” and that the requested information is “directly related to an ongoing investigation by the HHS.”
Click here to read Ms. Burns’ denial letter.
Our Appeal to the Office of Information Practices (“OIP”)
On August 28, 2008, we filed an appeal with the OIP, of the HHS decision to deny disclosure of documents we requested under the provisions of the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA), as permitted under Section 92F-15.5, Alternative Method to Appeal a Denial of Access.
Pamela Burns Denies Us Information, But Provides it to Ian Lind
Although we filed our appeal on August 28, 2008, the OIP has still not rendered a decision. However, during this interim period, the HHS has disclosed, to another party, the very information we petitioned to obtain from the HHS. On March 6, 2009, reporter Ian Lind printed portions of a letter he had received from Pamela Burns, Executive Director of the HHS, on his website (ianlind.com). We have reprinted the website information below:
“Friday (2)….Feline news and views. Humane Society responds, Kokua Line on the city’s spay/neuter services, and our Kaaawa cats March 6th, 2009 · 8 Comments
Pam Burns, CEO of the Hawaiian Humane Society, responded to an entry here two weeks ago questioning certain policies.
You are absolutely right that these are complex issues tied up in this case which require balancing of individual rights and current laws related to animal cruelty. This has been a very difficult case for many reasons and one that I have followed very closely as our Humane Investigators have been actively monitoring, making more than 100 unannounced visits to her, responding to more than 78 complaints from the public, and convincing her to surrender 47 cats over to us.
We have been corresponding with Pamela Davis (of Animal Advocates, Inc.) about this case for several months. She initially wrote me on May 8, 2008 “informing us” of Cathleen’s situation that we were already well aware of. Our director of operations, Rigo Neira had attempted to contact her via phone and was not successful and subsequently emailed her on June 13th informing Ms. Davis of our ongoing investigation of this case. On June 14th, she responded via email to me stating that she had not written to Rigo and was disappointed that I had not personally responded to her.
Since this was a cruelty investigation, I had felt it best to ask our staff who are directly involved and most knowledgeable about the case to respond to her concerns.
On June 27th she sent a letter to me asking for copies of records under UIPA and I responded on July 10, 2008 that since this was an open investigation that could lead to criminal charges this information is protected and the request was declined.
The video is very disturbing, however, when our investigators have made numerous unannounced visits they did not see what is portrayed in the video.”
Thus, Ms. Burns has released information on the number of “unannounced visits” (i.e., 100), “complaints from the public” (i.e., more than 78), and number of “cats surrendered’ (i.e., 47) to a reporter, yet she denied our request for records containing the same information, which we made under the provisions of the UIPA.
This is very disturbing, because in her denial letter to us, Ms. Burns states that our request for records is “without foundation” and that the information is “directly related to an ongoing investigation by the HHS.” However, in her letter to Ian Lind, Ms. Burns states, “Since this was a cruelty investigation, I had felt it best to ask our staff who are directly involved and most knowledgeable about the case to respond to her concerns.” So, Ms. Burns believes it is fine to share information about an ongoing cruelty investigation with a reporter, but not with ordinary citizens who make such requests? This begs the question: Is the “investigation” now over? It appears from Ms. Burns’ statements to Mr. Lind that it is over, as she states “this WAS a cruelty investigation.” If it is over, then there is certainly no reason for her to deny us access to the records. However, if it is still ongoing, then why would Ms. Burns share this information with Mr. Lind but not with us?
The HHS has a City and County of Honolulu contract, funded by taxpayers. We are taxpayers. Yet, we are flatly denied access to information which Ms. Burns freely shares with a reporter. We are extremely concerned about this behavior on the part of Ms. Burns and the HHS.
We are citizens who are trying to obtain information, yet the HHS has demonstrated its disdain for the requests of ordinary citizens. It is our understanding that Ms. Burns asked Mr. Lind not to print her letter to him. However, he did print it. And, now we believe there should be no doubt in the mind of OIP or anyone else that the information is “public” and must be released to us.
Undercover Video by Animal Advocate Inc. Leads to Introduction Of Bill at Legislature
Working with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (“ALDF”), Animal Advocate Inc. had legislation drafted to address this situation. We showed our video footage and photographs to the ALDF, and they stated that in their opinion, the Cat Lady is “in clear violation of the law.” However, because the HHS will not take action, we decided to try to have new language added to the existing animal cruelty statute (Section 711-1109, HRS). Representative Brower introduced HB1510, and Senator Galuteria introduced SB1222, “Humane Treatment of Pet Animals.”
SB1222, “Humane Treatment of Pet Animals”
On February 13, 2009, SB1222 was heard at the Judiciary and Government Operations Committee, chaired by Senator Brian Taniguchi. Also sitting on this committee are Senators Dwight Takamine, Sam Slom, Clarence Nishihara, Robert Bunda, and Mike Gabbard. Of these members, four (4) had been signatories to our bill, including Senators Taniguchi, Slom, Nishihara, and Bunda. The bill was deferred; however, on March 3, 2009, the Committee decided to pass the bill, and it will go to the floor of the Senate.
The HHS and the HSUS Testified in Opposition to SB1222
Animal Advocate Inc. testified in SUPPORT of SB1222 at the public hearing. However, both Kawehi Yim of the Hawaiian Humane Society (HHS) and the local representative of the Humane Society of the United States (Inga Gibson) spoke in OPPOSITION to SB1222. We also found it interesting that Pamela Burns, Executive Director of the HHS, attended the hearing but did not provide any testimony at all.
The public is very frustrated by this ongoing situation. People know that that this inhumane confinement has been going on for years. Although Ms. Burns did not speak at the Legislature, Kawehi Yim of the HHS testified that the Cat Lady lets the animals out once a day on a long (20-feet) lead. In all of the months we watched the Cat Lady and her daily activities, at all hours of the day and night, we never once saw any of the animals being let out of their cages. If the HHS wants us to believe this statement, then we again ask that they produce their records as we requested many months ago under the provisions of the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA).
Inga Gibson, the local representative of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) gave testimony in opposition to SB1222 as well. Ms. Gibson testified about her telephone conversation with someone at the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Ms. Gibson testified that the ALDF had written a City Ordinance, but Animal Advocate Inc. had a bill introduced at the Legislature instead. Ms. Gibson attempted to undermine our credibility; however, it appears to us that Ms. Gibson, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Hawaiian Humane Society do not have the best interests of the animals at heart. If they did, then they would have offered suggestions on how they believe the bill could be improved prior to the hearing, rather than going to the Legislature and testifying in opposition to the bill. Or better yet, why did THEY not have a bill introduced to help the animals? Why does it have to be up to ordinary citizens to right a wrong that has been going on for more than 10 years, when we have so-called “animal welfare organizations”, which have coveted City contracts, in place which have done nothing? It is always very easy to criticize the work of others, but they have not done the work themselves.
Cookie Nakai of the HHS (e-mail address: email@example.com) submitted written testimony saying the following about the Cat Lady: “She is seen regularly cleaning the cages, cleaning the animals, gently cajoling them to behave and to stay in line, etc. etc.” This is is striking contrast to direct observations made by Animal Advocate Inc., where we have witnessed the Cat Lady screaming and cursing at the animals, and striking at the animals with her hand. We have also documented the flies and feces. We have seen feces being pushed down into the storm drain, which goes into the ocean. We have seen animals lying in their own urine and filth because the cages are not cleaned out regularly enough.
It is very informative and interesting to read Standing Committee Report No. 590, pertaining to SB1222 (Senate Draft 1). For example, on page 1, it says, “The Hawaiian Humane Society testified in opposition to this measure that current laws in place address issues as they relate to animals being kept in inhumane confinements, such as the animals cruelty law, where the basics of ‘necessary sustenance’ are clearly and distinctly defined.” However, the Senate JGO Committee found the opposite, saying that, “The definition of ‘necessary sustenance’ is silent as to how long — whether four hours or ten years — a pet animal may be confined in a cage.” The JGO Committee stated, “This bill was introduced to address gaps in the law because, according to supporters, the response of the Humane Society to which complaints about this individual’s treatment of animals were directed was, in effect, that ‘they are unable to take action on the confinement of the cats because there is no law on the books’.” This is a clear contradiction in the HHS reasoning. On the one hand, they say the law in place already address inhumane confinement, yet they state that they are unable to take action on the confinement because there is no law on the books! Well, which is it???
We are grateful to the JGO Committee for passing the bill to the Senate floor. The Committee noted that an ad hoc Task Force on Humane Restraint and Confinement of Pet Animals will be convened to further discuss the issues, and requests that the ad hoc Task Force develop comprehensive legislation for the 2010 Regular Session. Animal Advocate Inc. will of course participate in the official Task Force, to be convened by the Legislature and office of the Governor.
The Animals are Breeding, with the Full Knowledge of HHS
We visited the Cat Lady on March 1, 2009, and we stopped to chat a little. At that time, she had 9 animals (8 cats and a rabbit). She showed us her pregnant gray cat who is about to give birth “any day now,” according to the Cat Lady. We asked her what happens to the kittens. She told us that the HHS comes and picks them up, and then they put the kittens up for adoption!
We called the HHS to find out what the charges are for adoptions, i.e., how much does it cost? We spoke to a man who told us that the fee for adopting a kitten is $60.00. However, the fee does not include a test for feline leukemia, and if you want your kitten to have this test, it costs an extra $15.00, for a total of $75.00. It is our understanding that much of the veterinary costs are done at no charge, and that much of the other needed items are donated. So, does this mean that the HHS profits $60.00 – $75.00 per animal?
The person we spoke with at the HHS also said that there are very few cats and no kittens at the HHS right now. Thus, we believe that HHS will be happy to receive the kittens from the Cat Lady. We asked about obtaining a kitten directly from the Cat Lady, rather than waiting until the HHS comes to pick them up. HHS said the Cat Lady doesn’t have the kittens tested for parasites or illnesses, so they would not recommend it. They also said that there is “no guarantee” that all the kittens will be “adoptable.” If some are deemed “unadoptable,” then we presume they are being euthanized. How many of the animals are being euthanized,, and why? The HHS employee said that HHS pays the Cat Lady a $25.00 “surrender fee,” but no one “sells us cats.” He also said they get kittens from “several homeless locations.” This begs the question: is the HHS counting on the homeless to contribute to the supply of kittens for adoption? The kittens HHS takes from the Cat Lady are added into the total number of adoptions made by the HHS each year. In other words, it is good for the HHS, it helps their adoption statistics. The Cat Lady produces litter after litter, year after year, and that adds up to a tidy sum of money. We don’t know how much however, because as we said before, HHS refuses to provide the records. But we know the Cat Lady has been around for at least 10 years.
Why does the HHS refuse to stop this unrestricted breeding of kittens? Could it be because they are making money from the adoption of the kittens? None of the Cat Lady’s animals is spayed or neutered, none have the ear notch. Why doesn’t the HHS at the very least require all her animals to be spayed or neutered? Could it be because they like receiving an unending supply of kittens? Remember, today the HHS employee told us there are currently no kittens at the HHS for people to adopt. We suspect The Cat Lady’s new litter will be welcomed by the HHS.
Cat Lady Issue On Front Page of Honolulu Advertiser
On February 9, 2009, an article by Mary Vorsino was printed on the front page of the Honolulu Advertiser. Please click this link to view the article:
Public Health Issues
In addition to the issues of breeding and cruel, continuous confinement, there is a potential public health issue. Our observations of the conditions in which the animals are being kept revealed the existence of flies and feces, and some of the excrement is being disposed of down the storm drains (which go into the ocean, causing pollution).
Animal Advocate Inc. has contacted the State Department of Health (DOH), Vector Branch, about this issue. When we visited the Cat Lady on March 1, 2009 at approximately 2:30 p.m., we smelled a very strong odor of feces coming from the cages.
We are not opposed to homeless persons having companion animals, as long as the animals are cared for in conformance with the laws of the State of Hawaii and treated humanely. We are concerned about the way the animals are confined by the Cat Lady, and we are very concerned about the unrestricted breeding, which is happening with the full knowledge of HHS.
Featuring an interview with Pam Davis of Animal Advocate Inc. regarding this issue – April 3, 2009
CLICK BELOW to see the video of the KHON-2 news story.
UPDATE – August 12, 2009 –
The Office of Information Practices (OIP) has ordered the Hawaiian Humane Society to turn over the documents requested by Animal Advocate Inc.
Click this link OIP Ruling to read our request for records pertaining to the Cat Lady
CAT LADY GIVES UP CATS!
On October 20, 2009, an article about the Cat Lady was printed on the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. You can click the link at the end of this post to view the article.
The article says the Cat Lady agreed to give the Hawaiian Humane Society (“HHS”) 19 cats and one rabbit. It also says she “declined to give up six kittens.” In other words, she had 19 cats, one rabbit, and six kittens, for a total of 26 animals in her possession. However , the article also says, “(Keoni) Vaughn, of the Humane Society, said the agency cannot take away the woman’s cats because she is not breaking any laws.”
We find Mr. Vaughn’s statement that she is not breaking any laws to be incorrect.
During the 2009 Hawaii Legislative session, Animal Advocate Inc. had a bill drafted and introduced to help the Cat Lady’s animals. It was SB1222, “Humane Treatment of Pet Animals,” and it became effective on July 1, 2009. The bill’s intent was to clarify the animal cruelty law, and prohibit confinement in a kennel or cage in a cruel or inhumane manner. The bill also extended the sunset date of the Animal Hoarding Law to July 1, 2015.
Section 711-1109.6, Animal Hoarding, states that a person commits the offense of animal hoarding if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses more than 15 dogs, cats, or a combination of dogs and cats. Therefore, the Cat Lady, with 26 animals, was in clear violation of the Animal Hoarding Law, exceeding the 15-animal limit by 11 animals.
And yet the HHS can say that “she is not breaking any laws”? Is the City’s animal control contractor unfamiliar with the animal cruelty laws it is supposed to enforce and uphold? This is simply intolerable. The people and the animals of O’ahu deserve better.
The Cat Lady lives on the public sidewalk, highly visible, and the HHS has received many complaints over the years about the way she confines the animals. The article says the HHS visits her weekly. Yet still, the HHS does not take appropriate and lawful action.
The HHS has NO CREDIBILITY in the Cat Lady case, nor do they have credibility in the Norman Pang case. Mr. Pang’s Federal lawsuit states that the HHS has demonstrated its willingness to partner with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to gather “evidence” on Mr. Pang, using official-looking badges and acting under the color of law, denying him his civil rights, although there were no citizen complaints against Mr. Pang — unlike the Cat Lady case, where there have been hundreds of citizen complaints.
MAHALO to everyone who has written testimony in support of our efforts, or contacted us or others regarding your experiences and opinions about the HHS and Pamela Burns, Inga Gibson/Humane Society of the United States, the Cat Lady, the breeding of kittens, the cruel confinement, and other related issues.
A HISTORY LESSON:
PREVIOUS LEGISLATION TO HELP ANIMALS CONFINED BY “THE CAT LADY”
In 2008, the Hawaii Legislature enacted SB3203, SD1, HD1, CD1, “Relating to Animal Hoarding.” The measure was introduced at the request of a concerned citizen, Mr. Glenn Fukunaga. In Mr. Fukunaga’s written testimony to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and labor, dated February 12, 2008, he stated, “While animal hoarders are generally unseen and unnoticed, I have been witness to a highly public example for the past several years. A homeless woman in Kakaako has been hoarding cats and ducks in squalid and extremely confining conditions.” He further stated, “The Hawaiian Humane Society (HHS) has informed me that they have no written standards on such confinement and welcome guidelines on this matter. In the future, the Legislature should bolster the “area of confinement” component in the definition of “necessary sustenance.” Mr. Fukunaga also included several photographs of the caged animals kept by the homeless woman (“Cat Lady”).
Ms. Kawehi Yim of the HHS submitted written testimony for the March 20, 2008 hearing before the House Committee on Judiciary. Ms. Yim stated, “The HHS supports legislation that strengthens Hawaii’s animal welfare laws. however, SB3203, SD1, in its current wording does not strengthen the Humane Society’s ability to better protect Hawaii’s animals. If that is your intent then this current language will not accomplish this.” However, in the HHS’s written testimony for the February 12, 2008 hearing before the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor, Ms. Yim stated, “As a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the HHS supports legislation that strengthens Hawaii’s animal welfare laws. We believe that the current animal cruelty laws cover the requirements of the owner(s) to provide the necessary sustenance for an animal, however, we are supportive of legislative efforts that can further reduce animal suffering and protect all animals.”
[NOTE: Please keep these statements in mind as you continue to read this article, especially to compare the HHS’s statements to those made more recently by the HHS in regard to our bill, SB1222.]
Also of interest is the testimony of the State Attorney General regarding SB3203. On March 20, 2008, Mark J. Bennett, Attorney General, testified before the House Committee on Judiciary. His written testimony, posted on the State Legislature’s website, shows that Mr. Bennett said, “Rules of statutory construction and Hawaii case law on penal statutes have held that a criminal statute is void for vagueness unless it: (1) gives the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited so that he or she may act accordingly, and (2) provides explicit standards for those who apply the statute, in order to avoid arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement (…).” [Emphasis added.] Therefore, we can see that the Attorney General pointed out the need to provide specific standards for enforcement. This is also the position taken by Animal Advocate Inc. In our April 19, 2009 letter (sent via electronic mail) to Senators Taniguchi, Takamine, and Slom, for the Senate Conferres Committee Meeting, we provided the following information and proposed the following specific standards for cage size:
April 19, 2009
Senators Taniguchi, Takamine and Slom
Hawaii State Capitol
415 South Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Dear Senators Taniguchi, Takamine, and Slom:
SUBJECT: Senate Conferees Committee Meeting SB1222, SD1, HD1 Relating to the Humane Treatment of Pet Animals
We are writing regarding the above-referenced bill, which you will be discussing in committee as the appointed Senate Conferees. Although the bill has been expanded to include tethering, the original intent of the bill was to address the cruel conditions in which a homeless woman (“The Cat Lady of Honolulu”) was confining cats, for approximately 10 years.
Our intent is to ensure that ambiguous language in the existing statute (Section 711-1109, HRS) is eliminated, and replaced with very clear language which specifies the conditions under which animals may be kept in a humane way. The woman has continued to keep the animals in small traps, carriers, and cages, and the Hawaiian Humane Society states that the language of the existing law is not sufficient to permit them to remove the animals from her possession. Thus, there is a need for explicit, not ambiguous, language.
It would be difficult to specify a minimum cage size for dog confinement, because there are so many sizes of dogs. However, domestic cats (felis catus) are essentially the same size. Cats typically weigh between 5.5 – 16 lbs. (There are a few larger breeds of cats, such as the Maine Coon, but those are few.) Moreover, the animals kept by the Cat Lady are feral. We have done research, and found that cats are, on average, about 18 inches from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail (i.e., not including the tail). The tail adds another 11.8 inches, on average. We believe that it is inhumane for animals to live their entire lives confined in a cage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, we realize that may not be possible to prohibit in all cases. Therefore, it is of supreme importance that the cages in which they are forced to live, with no release, are large and roomy enough.
We propose the following:
Cats must be kept in cages that are at least 3 times the body length of the animal in all measurement dimensions, i.e., height of cage, length of cage, and width of cage. Because the typical cat is about 18 inches in length, that means the cage must be a MINIMUM of 54 inches (4.5 feet) in height, by 54 inches in length, by 54 inches in width [54″ (H) x 54″ (L) x 54″ (W). This will ensure that each cat is provided 20.25 square-feet of space. That is not inordinate. A cage of this size will ensure that the unfortunate animals who must live their entire lives within a cage will have basic space in which to live. This is entirely reasonable in our view, and should be legislated as a minimum requirement. Moreover, specification of cage size and dimensions is an effective enforcement tool. It completely eliminates the need for “discretion” on the part of the humane officer. Either the cage meets the legal specifications, or it does not. Thus, it is easy to enforce. Armed with a law specifying minimum dimensions, there would be no reason or excuse for not applying the law. We think everyone can agree that it does no good to enact laws which will not be enforced. That is simply an exercise, and a waste of everyone’s time.
We acknowledge the efforts of so many in the Legislature and in the community to enact a law to help the animals, but we do not believe that either the Senate version (SD1) or House version (HD1) will be effective. This is a shame, because so many people have invested large amounts of time to secure a resolution to the cruelty which we observe on a daily basis.
The bill will modify the existing statute by adding, “Any kennel or cage where a dog or cat spends the majority of its time must allow the dog or cat adequate space to stand up, turn around freely, and lie down.” But what constitutes “adequate space?” The bill also adds, “Confines or causes to be confined, in a kennel or cage, any pet animal in a cruel or inhumane manner.” What, specifically, constitutes a “cruel or inhumane manner?” The language is, unfortunately, still ambiguous, and we do not believe that the Hawaiian Humane Society will enforce it. When the law calls for discretion on the part of the humane officer, the officer will not confiscate the animals. This is evidenced by the 10 years of citizen complaints received by the Hawaiian Humane Society, and the fact that the animals have still not been removed. For this reason, we believe that a specific cage size must be specified in the law.
Again, we do not believe it is humane to keep animals confined every day, all the time. However, if they are, then they must be in a large enough cage. If a person does not have enough room to accommodate the minimum cage size, then they cannot confine the cats. Moreover, we believe that the bill as originally written, which included language regarding caged animals on public property, should be reinstated. This is because there are public health issues for humans, resulting from the unsanitary conditions which currently exist. Feces and urine are discarded into the storm drains which go to the ocean. We have witnessed this. Also, the numerous carts and cages block the public sidewalk. Records we obtained from the State Department of Health, Vector Branch, show that citizens have complained about the way the cats are confined, and also the filthy conditions of the cages and the flies and other vectors buzzing around the feces and urine because the ages are not cleaned out frequently enough.
How many citizens must complain before this situation is adequately addressed? And for how many years? This woman lives on public property, not private property. She should be prohibited from keeping so many animals (we have documented 19 at one time), and the animals must not be continuously confined in small cages. We are asking that you make sure legislation which is enacted will actually provide relief for the animals’ suffering, this time around. Otherwise, it will be a great waste of the Legislature’s time and the public’s time, but more importantly, we will have failed yet again to stop the suffering of these animals.
We ask: How many more years must pass before effective legislation is enacted?
Pamela Davis, President of Animal Advocate Inc.
Therefore, Animal Advocate Inc. attempted to have a cage size included in SB1222, but we were unsuccessful. Like the Attorney General, we are concerned that without this important enforcement tool, the legislation would not be effective and could even be subject to judicial challenge. However, since we never received any response from Senator Taniguchi, Takamine, or Slom, we do not know why they did not accept our proposal for cage size specification. Our proposal may not ultimately be the best solution, but at least it provides a tool that an enforcement officer could use. Otherwise, it is based upon an individual officer’s judgment, which of course can be arbitrary or even capricious. Again, we do not believe cats should be confined in cages at all, but since the law does not prohibit this practice, we believe a specific cage size should be included in the law.
SB3203, SD1, HD1, CD1, has a sunset date of July 1, 2011, “to give the measure time to prove its effectiveness and to revisit any complications, if any, that may be experienced in its application.” To the dismay of concerned citizens and animal advocacy organizations, the animals cruelly confined by the Cat Lady have not been confiscated by the HHS, even though the hoarding law was specially written to help the Cat Lady’s animals. Is the HHS concerned about this? We do not believe they are. Animal Advocate Inc. attempted to find out if the HHS believes Section 711-1109, Hawaii Revised Statutes, gives them the authority to confiscate the animals, and we specifically asked them (our letter dated May 8, 2008) if they do not believe the law is sufficient, then why? In that way, we could have addressed any inadequacies which they, as the City’s Animal Control Contractor, believe exist in the law as it is currently written. However, the HHS has refused to respond to our letter. WHY? The HHS does not offer any suggestions on the wording of proposed legislation, even though they are the ones charged with enforcing the laws. WHY? The Hawaii Legislature passed SB3203 and SB1222 specifically to help the Cat Lady’s animals.
However, the Legislature has not put the question directly to the HHS, requiring them to respond to the question of what is needed in the law to allow them to confiscate the animals. WHY?
The Bill Was Passed — Now What?
Despite the efforts of citizens and the State Legislature, the cruel confinement has continued, unabated. Therefore, animal Advocate inc. produced a video to expose the cruelty. We photographed, videotaped, and documented the conditions over a period of about a year. The video, “The Failure of the Hawaiian Humane Society,” was aired on ‘Olelo Community Television and is available for viewing on the VIDEOS page of this website. To coincide with the premier of the video, Animal Advocate Inc. asked Senator Galuteria to introduce yet another bill aimed at rescuing the animals who are still cruelly confined. The bill also reduced from 20 to 15 the number of animals required to be possessed
for the animal hoarding statute to apply, and it extends the sunset date of the animal hoarding law (SB3203) to July 1, 2015.
The purpose of SB1222 is to clarify the animal cruelty law by prohibiting the confinement of a pet animal in a kennel or age in a cruel or inhumane manner. The bill specifies that a person commits the offense of cruelty to animals in the second degree if a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly “deprives a pet animal of necessary sustenance or causes such deprivation,” and “carries or causes to be carried, in or upon any vehicle or other conveyance, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner,” or “confines or causes to be confined, in a kennel or cage, any pet animal in a cruel or inhumane manner.”
It is now past the effective date of July 1, 2009, yet the HHS has still not acted to confiscate the animals. Both bills, SB3203 and SB1222, were written and enacted specifically to help the Cat Lady’s animals. The HHS is very well aware of that fact, yet the HHS still will not take action to protect these animals from the daily cruel confinement. We here at Animal Advocate Inc. are continuing to monitor the situation.
What is “Cruelty” Under Hawaii Law?
“Cruelty” is defined in Section 711-1100, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), as “every act, omission, or neglect whereby unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death is caused or permitted.” When the Legislature adopted the Code in 1972, it declined to accept the proposed draft’s treatment of the offense of cruelty to animals. Section 711-1109, HRS, as adopted, clarified the existing law relating to the offense of “cruelty to animals.” It makes it a crime to overdrive, overload, torture, torment, deprive of necessary sustenance, cruelly beat, or needlessly mutilate or kill a living creature. it also bars the carrying of any creature in a cruel or inhumane manner, and bars any other act towards the furtherance of any act of cruelty to animals.
What is “Necessary Sustenance”?
The standard of care with regard to cruelty to animals in Section 711-1109, HRS, defines “necessary sustenance” as follows: “Necessary sustenance” means care sufficient to preserve the health and well-being of a pet animal, except for emergencies or circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the owner or caretaker of the pet animal, and includes but is not limited to the following requirements:
(1) Food of sufficient quantity and quality to allow for normal growth or maintenance of body weight;
(2) Open or adequate access to water in sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy the animal’s needs;
(3) Access to protection from wind, rain, or sun; and,
(4) An area of confinement that has adequate space necessary for the health of the animal and is kept reasonably clean and free from excess waste for other contaminants that could affect the animals’ health.”
[NOTE: The way this statute is constructed, a person must meet all four of the above requirements, not just one or two of them. The use of the word “and” instead of “or” is the problem.]
Despite the definitions and the efforts to improve Hawaii’s cruelty laws, the statute is still vague and does not provide specific requirements with respect to confinement which can be used by enforcement officers. For example, what constitutes “adequate space” for a confined animal? What one person may consider “adequate” may not be adequate to another individual.
The terms used are vague, and unenforceable.
So, Have We Just Been Spinning our Wheels?
We’d like to mention that the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney testified (March 20, 2008) in regard to SB3203, stating, “We believe that if a person truly did not understand the circumstances in which their pets were living, there is a possibility that the person will be found not guilty pursuant to HRS 704-400 if there is a sufficient underlying mental or physical disease or defect.” It appears to us that the Cat Lady is mentally and physically ill. However, Animal Advocate Inc. believes that the KEY to finding a solution to this situation, and to writing a law that will finally deal with the situation once and for all, is the cooperation and the willing participation of the Hawaiian Humane Society. That has been lacking. In fact, the HHS appears to fight against all attempts by citizens and Legislators to help the animals in the Cat Lady’s possession. WHY?
The Shifting Position of the HHS
It is interesting to read the testimony of the HHS regarding SB1222. Ms. Kawehi Yim of the HHS provided written testimony to the Committee on Judiciary on March 17, 2009 for SB1222.
Ms. Yim stated, “The language specifically dealing with the inhumane confinement of pet animals is vague and does little to protect the animal. The current felony animal cruelty law has language in place to deal with the inhumane manner in which a pet animal is confined and we do not believe that the language contained in this bill will do anything to improve the conditions and/or welfare of the animal.”
We agree with Ms. Yim and the HHS that the language of SB1222 as enacted, is too vague because it does not contain a specific cage size for confining animals. However, the actions of the HHS leads Animal Advocate Inc. to believe that the HHS does not want to improve the animal cruelty law. If they were interested in helping these animals, they would have responded to our letters and they would have cooperated with the Legislature in suggesting specific language to strengthen the proposed law. Ms. Yim says that the current law “has language in place to deal with the inhumane manner in which a pet animal is confined.” However, if that is true, then WHY has the HHS not acted to remove the animals from the Cat Lady? Those animals live in squalid conditions, forced to live in their own urine and waste because the cages are not cleaned out frequently enough. The animals are never allowed to leave the confinement of the cages. How is this not a violation of the animal cruelty law? How can the law be sufficient, as Ms. Yim maintains, when the animals are forced to live under these conditions?
We are, therefore, afraid that SB1222 will suffer the same fate at SB3203. However, Animal Advocate Inc. and the citizens of our state will not accept that as the “final word.”