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Bills tighten penalties for killing animals

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The state House Judiciary Committee has advanced bills that would mean stiffer penalties and fewer loopholes for people who kill animals.

The committee approved on Thursday Senate Bill 1068, which would close a loophole in state law that requires prosecutors to prove that an animal was poisoned, tortured or mutilated before they can convict its killer.

"Sometimes the judge wants to see more than just simple killing," said Hono­­lulu Deputy Prosecutor Jon Riki Kara­ma­tsu. "We’re making it so that we can get individuals who simply kill the animal of another person."

Karamatsu said the bill would make it easier to prosecute animal cruelty cases like a 2007 incident where two Moana­lua Golf Club maintenance workers were arrested on suspicion of stealing and killing a patron’s dog, intending to eat it. The pair pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges in 2009 as part of a plea deal to have their theft charges dropped.

The committee also approved Senate Bill 1069, which would upgrade dogfighting from a class C felony to a class B felony with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The proposal would also criminalize knowingly attending a dogfight, making it a class C felony with a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, a significant victory for the Humane Society in a bill that was part of its legislative package this year.

SB 1068 and SB 1069 could go before the full House for a vote as early as next week.

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