Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Call the Humane Society
to report on a noisy pet

Question: My neighbor has a bird that screams very loudly to be fed every morning for at least two hours, and at least a hour in the afternoon. This is seven days a week. Some Sundays, they let him scream at least four hours before they give it enough to keep it quiet for a few hours. It's screaming right now, at 1:25 p.m., and has been for at least an hour. They have told me that the only time it screams is "when it's hungry." This bird's cage is butted against my fence, seven feet from where we have our three meals every day. It is very hard to hear ourselves think, let alone hold a conversation. Is there something that can be done to save my sanity and the sanity of our neighbors?

Answer: Call the Hawaiian Humane Society, which is the enforcer of the city's animal nuisance law, at 946-2187.

That law pertains to any "animal, farm animal or poultry" that "makes noise continuously and/or incessantly for a period of 10 minutes or intermittently for one-half hour or more" any time of the day or night.

The definition of "animals" includes "those animals that are customary and usual pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, honeybees and other beasts."

The Humane Society advises complainants to try to resolve the problem first by talking to the animal owner, said Humane Society spokeswoman Eve Holt. If that doesn't work, as it obviously hasn't in your case, the society probably would send a warning as a first notice, to give the owner the opportunity to take corrective measures, she said.

If that doesn't help, an investigator would then check out the situation and may issue a citation.

Just as there are ways to deal with incessantly barking dogs, there are ways to deal with a noisy bird, said veterinarian Eric Ako, who sees a lot of birds in his practice.

It's true they tend to be the noisiest when they are hungry, generally in the morning and evening, he said.

Methods to squelch the squawking include distracting the bird or using either negative reinforcement (such as squirting it with water when it makes noise) or positive reinforcement (redirecting or pre-empting its behavior), he said.

But all that's for naught if the owner isn't cooperative or responsible, Ako said.

"Unfortunately, most people are not aware that pet birds are supposed to come to the veterinarian at least once a year," he said. "Quite frankly, most people don't take proper care of their birds. There could very well be something physically wrong with it."

In fact, Ako said, most bird owners don't know what they're doing, "both in basic care -- what to feed and so on -- and also, they don't understand bird psychology."

Birds are becoming more popular as pets, he noted. "But again, more and more behavior problems are occurring, across the nation, as more and more people are adopting birds but are not learning what they're supposed to know."

Q: On March 13, around 5:40 p.m., I was traveling town-bound on the H-1 freeway (near Kmart) and saw a photo enforcement sign and camera van. But the guy in the van wasn't facing me. He was looking in his camera, facing the opposite direction of traffic. Does he have the right to do that?

A: The camera operator has approval to take photos from either the front or rear of the van, according to Marilyn Kali, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

"If it's from the front of the van, they are shooting the rear license plate of the speeding vehicle.," she said. "If they are shooting from the rear of the van, they are taking photos of the front license plate of the speeding vehicle."

The decision is based on the time of day and location. For example, there may be too much glare if the camera is facing into the sun during the day, while at night only rear photography is done so the camera's flash won't shine in the driver's eyes, Kali said.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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