Dog advocates rally


POSTED: Monday, February 09, 2009

In the first of several protests planned on Oahu, dozens of dog owners called yesterday for state lawmakers to dismiss a bill that would ban pit bulls.

Legislators will likely not pass the bill, but a growing group of dog owners is reacting quickly and loudly to stop the legislation before it can get anywhere.

“;We don't even want this bill to be heard,”; said Patrick Augustus, 40, of Ewa Beach, who owns four bulldogs and one pit bull. “;We don't want to wait until to the last minute to start protesting.”;

Hundreds of Oahu residents signed a petition started by several community members at a rally at Magic Island yesterday to protest the bill. Dozens of residents, wearing shirts that protest breed-specific legislation, lined the busy street of Ala Moana Boulevard to draw awareness to their cause.

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa introduced the bill after a constituent asked that a pit bull ban be discussed, causing quick outrage among many pit bull lovers. Residents of Kauai, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island have also held protests.

The bill would make it a misdemeanor to sell or own an American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or Staffordshire bull terrier.

Sen. Brian Taniguchi, chairman of the Judiciary and Government Operations Committee, said there will likely be no hearing on this proposal.

“;I'm not really inclined to hear this bill,”; said Taniguchi (D, Manoa-Moiliili-McCully-Makiki). “;It was a little surprising that we got such a huge number of people. I've gotten a lot of e-mails and faxes on this.”;

Several cities across the U.S., including Denver, have instituted pit bull bans primarily because of vicious attacks that occurred.

Last month in Hawaii, there were three reports of pit bull bites.

Advocates of the ban say it would protect the public from pit bulls, viewed as dangerous and aggressive dogs. However, pit bull owners say that it is simply a stereotype and that the legislation is discriminatory against a breed.

“;Last year I had to euthanize my first pit bull. She was 12 years old, six months apart from my daughter,”; said Shell Ewing, 40, of Mililani. “;It was like losing my child. With the right owner, these dogs are good dogs. Passing this law would be like taking away our children.”;

“;My dogs are my family,”; said Elizabeth Cabibi, 37, who recently moved from Seattle to Ewa Beach with her two pit bulls. “;Breed bans don't work. People that are responsible like us, we're being punished. People that are not following the law are going to continue to not follow the law.”;