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Courts must take animal cruelty seriously

By Pamela Burns


We at the Hawaiian Humane Society are extremely disappointed about the sentencing of David Becker, who was directly responsible for managing a large commercial Waimanalo dog breeding operation.

A six-month sentence doesn't provide justice to the animals that were harmed by his actions. We believe that given the 153 counts of animal cruelty, more jail time is warranted. Furthermore, the judge should have prohibited Becker from owning animals and disallowed him to own or work in any business related to animals.

Restitution to the Hawaiian Humane Society is also fitting — given that we provided more than $370,000 in care for these animals through the generosity of our residents.

It was our hope that this case actually proceeded to trial. The Humane Society helped to build a convincing body of evidence and the many charges were warranted: 153 animals were taken into our custody when the puppy mill was inspected by our officers, placing an enormous burden on our organization and the community. More than 20 veterinarians and clinics stepped up to help and more than 250 foster families provided day-to-day care. The dogs' health issues were pervasive and severe.

Before the dogs were rescued, the Hawaiian Humane Society offered Becker many opportunities to bring his dog-breeding operation up to minimally acceptable standards. He never did. Becker was personally responsible for the deplorable conditions at the puppy mill. These animals' lives were in his hands and at his mercy — they woke up to the same nightmare of filth, sick and suffering every single day. They were victims of greed — jailed and caged in deplorable conditions that clearly violated our animal cruelty laws.

This may be the largest case of animal cruelty in recent history. Sadly, it is not the only one. For the last two years, proposed legislation, strongly supported by the Hawaiian Humane Society, included provisions for standardizing housing, improving access to exercise and establishing licensing programs as a means to regulate dog breeding businesses.

These initiatives were defeated due to opposition from the pet shops and the fancier community.

We did succeed in improving the forfeiture law in animal cruelty cases this year to include in utero offspring. Should there be another cruelty case, there will be no question about whether unborn puppies are protected and included in the forfeiture process.

Every year, the Hawaiian Humane Society estimates, there are nearly 5,000 puppies sold on Oahu both on the Internet and in pet shops, resulting in about $4.5 million of revenue. Puppy breeding is big business and the welfare of a puppy's parents is often not the priority. We must rely on all of Hawaii's animal lovers to end irresponsible breeding in which profit is more important than welfare.

Anyone wanting to acquire a puppy should consider adopting from a shelter or contacting a responsible breeder where welfare is their priority. By purchasing a puppy through a pet store or online, you may unknowingly be supporting the continued suffering of animals.

Collectively we need to protect our pets and speak out against animal cruelty. If you know of a situation where animals are being treated poorly, let us know. Animal cruelty is a crime that hurts all of society and it's time the courts take such crimes seriously.

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bookemdano wrote:
I'm curious is the Hawaiian HS taking a position on the abuse of animals in factory farming? although they are not operating on Oahu their meat products are being sold and consumed there...would the Hawaiian HS consider endorsing farme'rs markets and locally grown meat and poultry? DT
on December 23,2012 | 03:43AM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
Hawaii judges are notoriously lenient in sentencing. It's part of the liberal mentality which favors protecting the rights of criminal defendants over the need for punishment. Punishment? Nah, we don't like that idea; let's talk about rehabilitation instead. Judges absolute hate mandatory minimum sentences. But ridiculously lenient sentences are what prompt the legislature to enact mandatory minimum sentences.
on December 23,2012 | 04:32AM
Jireton wrote:
If you have never given yourself the chance to discover the humor and personality of dogs and the joy they bring into your life, Judge Kim, I will gladly spring for the adoption fees so you can get started. Just let me know. Maybe then you will understand the true travesty of this case and others like it, and the inadequacy of the sentence you imposed.
on December 23,2012 | 07:32AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
This would not have happened if the dogs had AR15s with high capacity magazines.
on December 23,2012 | 12:37PM
BRock wrote:
This from an organization that kills thousands of animals a year! Inthink the judge has a sense of proportion in this case and made a wise decision. Qq
on December 23,2012 | 05:58PM
daniwitz13 wrote:
This I realize is a sensitive subject to everyone that loves Animals. But NOT everyone loves Animals. Animals are slaughtered by the millions probably daily for food or whatever. No Human should be put into prison for an Animal. Fines might be in order but NEVER prison. May as well stop killing of any Animal no matter what. Other places have bull fights, dog fights, chicken fights or whatever fights. A lot of them die or are killed. I just has to come to the conclusion, an Animal is an Animal. Many love and treat their pet like their own Children, yes, and another would rather eat it. Therefore, there is such a wide disparity among Humans as to the standing of Animals, it is illogical to put someone in PRISON for an Animal. The State for one should have inspectors to have been on top of neglect or unsanitary conditions thereby exacerbating this case. Pity.
on December 23,2012 | 06:59PM
kiragirl wrote:
Just curious, are you a US citizen?
on December 25,2012 | 01:40AM
control wrote:
I don't believe it is right that animals are accorded better treatment in courtrooms than human victims of similar crimes. If you want to improve life for animials, concentrate on improving life for people first.
on December 24,2012 | 07:13AM
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