Honolulu City Council OKs shorter hold times for stray pets before possible euthanasia
A bill allowing the Hawaiian Humane Society to shorten the length of time it must keep a microchipped cat or dog to five days from nine days before deciding whether to euthanize it won final approval from the City Council Wednesday despite lingering protests from advocates of a no-kill policy.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
A bill allowing the Hawaiian Humane Society to shorten the length of time it must keep a microchipped cat or dog to five days from nine days before deciding whether to euthanize it
won final approval from the City Council Wednesday despite lingering protests from advocates of a no-kill policy.
Bill 59 (2019), which won approval 8-0, also would
require that all registered pet cats and dogs be microchipped, which the Humane Society believes would make it easier to return
lost animals to their owners.
The bill also makes a number of other changes that HHS staff describes as necessary to bring Oahu’s animal ordinance — and
its contract with the city — in line with animal welfare best practices nationally. The bill now goes to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who is expected to sign it. If it becomes law, it would take effect July 1.
The biggest opposition Wednesday continued to deal with the reduction in mandatory minimum hold times to five days for
those animals with identification. (Animals without IDs of any sort are subject to only a 48-hour hold period under the current law, and that won’t change under the bill.)
Humane Society officials said 90% of stray animals retrieved are back with their owners in five days. Reducing the hold time would give the animals less stress and allow those not claimed but are healthy to be adopted more quickly, they said.
But critics continued to slam the plan, arguing that it doesn’t give enough time for owners to save their
animals. Sharon Williams, vice president of Kat Charities, said her daughter recently found five kittens near their house and turned them into the Humane
Society after being assured they would be reunited
with their mother, who apparently had been captured the previous day.
Within an hour, Kat Charities attempted to get the kittens back but were told there were none, Williams said. Two days later,
“we did hear back and unfortunately all five kittens were euthanized,” she said.
“HHS is a known, high-kill shelter and reducing the number of (hold) days is not going to save lives, it’s going to cost more lives,” she said.
Kasey Carter, the Hawaiian Humane Society’s
chief veterinarian, said
he could not speak to the specifics of Williams’ account although it appears they were not microchipped and therefore not required to be held nine days.
A five-day hold will help animals that are brought
in with injuries more quickly, Carter said. A dog taken to the shelter Tuesday night that sustained two broken legs after being hit by a car could not be helped immediately except for providing it food,
liquids and painkillers,
because the law says HHS cannot do anything invasive unless it is obvious the animal would otherwise die, Carter said.
Moving to a five-day hold would allow HHS to take ownership more quickly and then administer aide more quickly, Carter said.
Mililani pet shop owner Ricky Baker said he objects to requiring animals to be microchipped. “Laws should not be passed that dictate when medical procedures should be performed on pets,” Baker said.
“Registering a pet with a private chip company can be burdensome and costly, and problematic, especially if we’re talking about puppies that are 12 weeks old,” Baker said.
Pushing for a five-day minimum hold period does not help the pet owners’ perception of the Humane Society, he said. Instead of penalizing owners who lose their pets, he said, the organization should focus more on educating pet owners about the benefits of registering their animals.
Alicia Maluafiti, founder of Poi Dogs and Popoki, urged Council members to discard the bill and work with all the interested parties in coming up with legislation more amenable to the different sides. She
said she is encouraged
that there appears to be
a new generation of pet owners and animal advocates skeptical about
HHS’s policies but are willing to work with the agency for improvements that would help the welfare of the animals.
Kobayashi, who authored the bill, said current HHS officials acknowledge that some of its previous practices may have been questionable but that it’s doing better under new leadership. Kobayashi inserted language requiring HHS to report its euthanasia numbers although it already does so.
Numbers provided by the Hawaiian Humane Society show the number of dogs and cats that are brought in and subsequently euthanized has dropped significantly since 1993 while the percentage of pets returned has climbed.
Other key provisions of the bill:
>> Gives HHS the authority to spay or neuter dogs brought in as strays three times within a 12-month period.
>> Requires owners of dogs found strayed three times within a year to pay
a $30 fee.
>> Raises the mandatory hold fee to $10 a day (after the initial 24 hours) from $2.50 a day. The fee was last increased in 1983.