Man sentenced for animal abuse
Owner of starved Kauai dogs gets 6 months
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LIHUE » A Kauai man who admitted to leaving his dogs for more than two weeks without food or water received a six-month jail sentence yesterday.
Steve Cummings, 48, of Anahola pleaded no contest to 20 counts of animal cruelty for the starvation of the dogs, three of which were found dead by Humane Society officials in December.
Cummings said it was a tragic mistake when his return from a trip was delayed and he thought his relatives would feed them.
Prosecutors, however, compared the dogs' suffering to that of concentration-camp prisoners.
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LIHUE » A Kauai resident whose Anahola property was described as a "canine Auschwitz" by prosecutors received a six-month jail term for animal cruelty yesterday.
Kauai resident Steve Cummings pleaded guilty in May to 20 counts of animal cruelty for leaving his 20 hunting dogs without food or water in December. Three died, and the other 17 had to be nursed back to health by Kauai Humane Society officials.
But Cummings, 48, said yesterday that he loved his dogs, was "truly sorry for what happened" and that the deaths were a tragic mistake.
Cummings had planned a trip to Las Vegas and asked a relative to look after the dogs while he was gone, his lawyer, Brandon Flores, said yesterday. His return was postponed, but Cummings figured the relative would continue to feed the dogs. He or she did not.
The canines -- pit bull, Airedale and hound mixes -- were left without food and water for 16 days, Flores added.
County Deputy Prosecutor Stewart Merdian, however, painted a different picture of events and Cummings' culpability.
The decomposition of one dog left in a cage likely took months, judging by the skeleton, he said.
And, if not for a call from a neighbor, all the dogs would have been dead within another week.
Three of the dogs were so emaciated they would have died within 24 hours, Humane Society officials told prosecutors.
"There was a death camp on Kauai," Merdian said. "This was a canine Auschwitz."
Auschwitz was a concentration camp run by Nazi Germany in Poland during World War II.
No relative has ever come forward to corroborate Cummings' story, Merdian added.
Flores, however, countered that the decomposition of the dog could have taken place within a few weeks. Also, Cummings refused to identify the person who didn't feed his dogs to keep the person from being vilified in the media, since he "was tired of being treated poorly in the press" himself, his lawyer said.
District Judge Trudy Senda imposed the six-month jail sentence because, she said, of the severity of the offenses and Cummings' apparent lack of concern for the dogs.
Senda, relying on Humane Society reports, said Cummings was notified Dec. 6 that his dogs had been found near death or dead. Cummings didn't see his dogs until the next day at the Humane Society.
Cummings is "not a killer," Flores said. He cares for his dogs, he wanted them back and he was willing to pay for their care, even after he was arrested and the dogs were removed, he added.
He also agreed to pay the Humane Society $12,150 for nursing the dogs back to health.