Friday, April 27, 2001

Hawaii State Seal

Bill gives counties control
over vicious dogs

By Lisa Asato

VICIOUS DOGS would come under the jurisdiction of counties under a bill approved yesterday by a joint Senate and House committee.

Although three counties already have their own dangerous-dog ordinances, the bill clarifies that counties can enact and enforce their laws.

The bill relates to dogs that have "bitten, injured or maimed a person."

Previous language was broader and included dog attacks that resulted in death, said Senate Tourism and Intergovernmental Affairs Chairwoman Donna Mercado Kim, but lawmakers deleted the provision because death is already covered under existing law. The bill also pertains to attacks on other animals.

Kim (D, Fort Shafter) said the bill does not mean the state is taking a hands-off approach to dealing with vicious dogs. Instead, she said, it gives the counties the leeway to come up with their own laws under the provisions set up by the bill.

"I am thrilled," said Rexann Dubiel, whose 9-year-old terrier died last year after being mauled by a pit bull outside her home.

Her dog, Gutzie, died the next day, two days before Christmas.

"I feel like it was for my dog, but more importantly it was for all the other dogs, cats, horses, children and people that could be attacked in the future," said Dubiel, a third-grade teacher at Sunset Beach Elementary School. "Now there will be criminal consequences, and those people who have dangerous dogs will think twice about protecting their neighbors and their neighbors' pets."

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