Penalty for killing dog includes jail time


POSTED: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One of two former Moanalua Golf Club workers who admitted butchering a pet dog of a golf club member in 2007 started serving three months of a one-year prison term yesterday.

Circuit Judge Randal Lee sentenced Nelson Domingo, 44, and Saturnino Palting, 59, to five years' probation for felony animal cruelty. He also ordered them to each spend one year in jail as a condition of the probation, suspending the whole term for Palting and nine months for Domingo, who went to jail.

“;The court finds because you were not forthcoming, it's appropriate that you do serve a term of imprisonment, at least a portion of it, to impress upon you that this should not occur again,”; Lee said, noting Domingo lied about why he killed the dog to court officials who interviewed him for their pre-sentence report.

The dog's owner, Frank Manuma, said he and wife have forgiven Domingo and Palting for what they did and recommended they do not serve any jail time.

Lee told Manuma he disagrees with him because of the egregiousness of Domingo and Palting's actions.

Domingo and Palting are the first people prosecuted for cruelty to animals in the first degree, a Class C felony, which became law in 2007. Before that animal cruelty was a misdemeanor.

Domingo and Palting took a dog that golf club member Manuma mistakenly brought with him to the golf course Dec. 16, 2007; they butchered it at a co-worker's house to eat.

The pair told police that when the golf club manager called the two's co-worker's house looking for them, they got scared and threw the dog's carcass into a stream behind the home.

When he was arrested, Palting admitted taking the dog but said it ran away. He forfeited his car to the state because it was used to transport the dog.

Domingo told court officials he took the dog to be a pet, but when it refused to eat table scraps, he decided to kill it because that would be cheaper than buying dog food.

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Nelson Domingo and Saturnino Palting were charged under a new felony animal-cruelty law for killing a dog as a meal.

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His lawyer argued yesterday that Domingo believed the dog was given to him.

The golf club manager had earlier said he specifically told Domingo that the dog, which was tied up while Manuma played golf, belonged to a member and not to touch it.

The two men were also facing a charge of second-degree theft, but the state agreed to drop it in exchange for their guilty pleas to animal cruelty.

After the one-year suspension, Lee told Domingo and Palting he will evaluate whether they are truly remorseful for what they did.

In addition to the probation and jail term, Lee fined each man $500 and ordered each of them to pay a $505 fee into the state's crime victims compensation fund and a $150 fee into the state's probation services fund.

Lee also ordered Domingo to perform 400 hours of community service and Palting 300 hours. And they cannot own or possess dogs during their probation or live on a property where dogs are present.