Thursday, November 26, 2015         

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Dog-attack victim undergoes surgery

By Rosemarie Bernardo


A woman remained in a hospital after surgery Tuesday night to repair deep cuts from an unprovoked attack at the Kaneohe sandbar by a bull mastiff that weighs as much as she does.

The victim, a veteran crew member of the Dreamer Yacht Charters, suffered deep lacerations behind her ear, on the back of her neck and on top of her head from the attack by the 130-pound dog.

"She is still traumatized," said Rob Mathews, operations manager of Dreamer.

The woman, described as 5 feet 4 inches tall and 130 pounds, was in stable condition and is recovering, he said. She is expected to remain at the hospital for the next three days. Mathews said doctors are concerned about infections that might develop from the bite wounds.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is continuing an investigation of the attack at the sandbar, which falls under state jurisdiction. Spokeswoman Deborah Ward said the dog was released to its owner after the attack because the state doesn't have rules relating to dangerous dogs.

The Hawaiian Humane Society could not impound the dog because the attack occurred outside its jurisdiction. If a serious dog attack occurred on land on Oahu, the Humane Society, in general, would have the authority to impound the animal, said Keoni Vaughn, the society's director of operations.

Under Honolulu's dangerous-dog ordinance, violators face a fine of $500 to $2,000 and a maximum jail term of 30 days. The owner also could be mandated to pay restitution to the victim of medical expenses and financial loss.

The ordinance applies to dogs that have a history of attacks. If the dog has no history of attacks, the offense would be downgraded to an animal nuisance dog bite where the owner can face a fine of $50 to $1,000 and up to six months' probation.

Vaughn said the Humane Society issued the owner a warning Tuesday to document the attack.

Tuesday afternoon, the victim was setting an anchor when the dog from a recreational boat 100 yards away jumped on her and dragged her underwater, Mathews said. The captain of the chartered yacht grabbed a bullhorn to alert the dog owner and jumped into the water to help the victim, he said.

The owner responded as soon as he realized what was going on, Mathews said. "If it happened to a child, the results would've been completely catastrophic," said Mathews, noting that he sees children at the sandbar every day.

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