FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
At top, some of the 64 dogs seized from the property of James Montgomery on Jan. 29, are being held in cages at the Hawaiian Humane Society in Moiliili. Director of Shelter Operations Linda Haller checks on two of the dogs.
Kahaluu breeder fined for cruelty
A Kahaluu dog breeder whose 64 dogs were seized by the Hawaiian Humane Society last year pleaded guilty to multiple counts of animal cruelty at District Court yesterday.
District Court Judge Rhonda Nishimura granted James W. Montgomery, 58, a deferral of his guilty plea to 55 counts of animal cruelty, which is considered a misdemeanor punishable with up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine per count.
Montgomery, a Kaiser High School teacher, was ordered to pay a $5,500 fine, or $100 per count, to undergo a mental health assessment and is prohibited from owning or possessing dogs on his property.
Some of the 64 dogs that were seized from Montgomery's property gave birth to puppies at the Humane Society. In her order, Nishimura gave Montgomery 21 days to transfer ownership of the dogs, now numbering 78. That means he can sell them for a profit, something the prosecution tried unsuccessfully to stop.
If he meets the conditions for the duration of the one-year deferral, his record of the offense will be expunged.
On Jan. 29, Humane Society investigators seized the dogs at James and Susan Montgomery's Mahakea Road property. Vector control inspectors contacted the Humane Society after they inspected the property several times between December 2002 and January 2005. They had responded to complaints of foul odors coming from the property.
One of many photos taken by Humane Society investigators showed maggots crawling on the inside of a white bucket that was used to feed some of the dogs. Other photos show buckets of algae-infested drinking water.
PHOTO COURTESY HAWAIIAN HUMANE SOCIETY
At James Montgomery's property, dogs were kept in cages in substandard conditions that included dog feces, flies and mosquitos. Vector control inspectors had received complaints of strong odors coming from the property before the Hawaiian Humane Society seized the animals.
"I'm happy that he took responsibility. I'm thankful that the Humane Society did get involved and these dogs are well taken care of," said Deputy Prosecutor Kristine Yoo. "We hope to not have these kinds of instances repeat (themselves). We hope this is a wake-up call."
Attorney William Harrison, who represented James Montgomery, said the guilty plea was a compromise for his client to avoid lengthy media coverage of the trial.
"The family, his children, his wife were just being battered by the coverage on this issue. The children were being teased at school," Harrison said.
"I think he could have prevailed in the trial," he added, noting that none of the animals was mistreated.
"I can understand if they were brutalized, malnutritioned, beaten. None of those dogs were in those conditions. They were in a relatively (healthy) condition," Harrison said.
The Montgomerys have since improved conditions on their property, he said.
Linda Haller, director of shelter operations at the Hawaiian Humane Society, said she was disappointed by the deferral.
"This is disheartening to us," Haller said, adding that Montgomery can sell the dogs during the 21-day period.
Some of the dog types he bred included beagles, Boston terriers, English bulldogs and shar peis.
It cost the Humane Society an estimated $269,000 to care for the dogs, according to spokeswoman Jacque LeBlanc. Some had minor health problems.
Following the seizure of the dogs, three of the couple's seven children -- two girls and a boy, ages 9, 12 and 14 -- were put in state custody in February 2005 because of the unsanitary living conditions. They have since been returned to the couple under state supervision.