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May 4, 2011

The HSUS Praises Hawaii Legislature for Cracking Down on Illegal Dogfighting and Animal Cruelty

Gov. Abercrombie Urged to Sign Bills

HONOLULU — The Humane Society of the United States praised the Hawaii Legislature for passing bills that significantly strengthen the state’s weak dogfighting law and address a vagueness in the cruelty statute brought to light by a particularly cruel peacock killing that garnered worldwide media attention.

SB 1069 strengthens penalties against illegal dogfighting, raising the act itself from a Class C to a Class B felony, andmaking it a felony to attend or wager on a dogfight or to use “bait” dogs– often lost or stolen pets– to train dogs for fighting. An HSUS survey of state animal protection laws currently ranks Hawaii last for  dogfighting, with the weakest law in the country – primarily because there is no penalty for being a spectator at a dogfight. With the passage of this law, Hawaii will now have one of the strongest anti-dogfighting laws in the country. The bill was sponsored and championed by Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku, La'ie, Ka'a'awa, Kane'ohe. Sen. Hee is internationally recognized for his leadership on Hawaii’s unprecedented HSUS-backed 2010 shark fin law.

The legislature also adopted SB 1533, sponsored by Sen. Maile Shimabukuro,D-Ko Olina, Kahe Point, Nanakuli, Ma'ili, Wai'anae, Makaha, Makua, Ka'ena Point, prompted by the case of a peacock who was beaten with a baseball bat. The defendant was acquitted due to the vagueness of the law. This bill clarifies that animals considered pests or vermin, which may include birds, mongoose or rodents, be handled only in accordance with standard and acceptable methods such as those used by animal or pest control professionals.

“The Humane Society of the United States thanks the Hawaii Legislature for taking animal fighting and cruelty seriously,” said Inga Gibson, The HSUS' Hawaii state director. "The HSUS is especially grateful to Senators Hee and Shimabukuro for their leadership on these important bills, and urges Governor Abercrombie to sign these measures.”

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.  

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