Honolulu prosecutors have brought charges against a Waimanalo dog-breeding operation from which 153 dogs were recovered in February, in what a Hawaiian Humane Society official called probably the largest action against a "puppy mill."
The 153-count complaint against Bradley International was filed in Kaneohe District Court on Thursday.
According to the complaint, Bradley International committed 153 counts of second-degree animal cruelty by depriving the dogs of necessary sustenance or sufficient care to preserve their health and well-being. Each count is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
If the company is found guilty, the company’s officials will face punishment, city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said in a news conference Friday announcing the charges. He declined to name the officials.
According to state business records, the chief executive officer and director of the company is Shannon Luke, the vice president and secretary is David Becker and the vice president and treasurer is Vernon Luke. They could not be reached yesterday for comment.
On Feb. 28 the Hawaiian Humane Society and police seized 153 dogs at the Waimanalo business.
The seizure happened after police received two complaints: one involving a barking dog and another involving a woman who was allegedly trespassing with five dogs.
Pamela Burns, president of the Hawaiian Humane Society, said at the news conference that she believes it is the largest animal rescue involving a puppy breeder on Oahu.
She said the Humane Society has been investigating the company’s breeding facility for three years but was limited in investigating by law.
To enter a breeding operation, an investigator needs permission, probable cause or a search warrant, she said. The Humane Society unsuccessfully sought a law this past legislative session that would have allowed investigators to enter a dog-breeding facility during regular business hours.
Since the seizure of the dogs, three puppies have died, Kaneshiro said.
Most have been placed into foster care homes until the case is closed, but some remain with veterinarians because of their health.
"They come from conditions that were horrific," Burns said. "Many of them had to be shaved down because of the terrible matting (of their fur)."
But many of the dogs are thriving, and 70 puppies have since been born to the rescued animals.
Kaneshiro said his office will continue to "aggressively prosecute such cruel conduct against animals" because the animals can’t protect themselves.
"People who are cruel to animals are also cruel to other people," he said. "Animals deserve some protection."
A representative of Bradley International is scheduled to appear in court to answer the charges on June 9.