Responsibility for pets
should last forever


The Legislature is considering a bill that would make trusts for the care of animal companions enforceable.

MEN have forgotten this truth," the fox warned The Little Prince, "but you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." The late French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery had it nearly right.

Unfortunately, according to present law in Hawaii, the responsibility ends when the master precedes the pet in death. A bill in the Legislature would correct that flaw, allowing people to leave enforceable trusts for the care of their pets -- forever.

A person may include care of Fido or Fluffy in the last will and testament, but that provides no guarantee that it will be followed. Successive guardians may ignore such provisions. Pets are considered property, without legal rights, even though their owners brag about them, talk baby-talk to them and consider them a part of the family to nearly every imaginable degree, including fighting over pet custody.

Estates for pets are becoming common. Tobacco heiress Doris Duke left $100,000 in trust for her dog, actress Betty White is leaving a $5 million estate to her animals, and British singer Dusty Springfield is instructing the trustee of her estate to continue feeding imported baby food to her cat, Nicolas.

Seventeen states have enacted laws recognizing the interests of companion animals in civil law. The Morgan Bill, named after the collie of its sponsor, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would make it easier to create trusts for pets, but Congress has taken no action on the bill since its introduction four years ago.

A person now may leave a will appointing a friend or relative as trustee, entrusted with feeding and caring for Fido or Fluffy, but the trustee may discard that instruction on a whim. The trustee cannot be prosecuted for breach of trust. The Hawaii Legislature should correct that invitation to animal neglect.


Against great odds,
he stood for fairness


Fred Korematsu, interned during World War II, defied a U.S. directive because he knew the government was wrong.

THE term "hero" is applied so loosely these days that to describe Fred Korematsu as one does not give the man his full due. He is deserving of it.

Korematsu refused to surrender his rights as an American citizen at a time when people like him were smeared as disloyal and dangerous to the nation of their birth.

For nearly 40 years, the native of Oakland, Calif., lived with the stain of a federal court conviction, found guilty in 1942 of ignoring the government's World War II directive that sent more than 100,000 Americans and immigrants to internment camps.

He appealed, but two years later, the Supreme Court ruled that military necessity was the basis for his internment.

In 1983, after documents were uncovered that clearly showed the government concealed evidence that racism -- and not its professed national security -- motivated the internment order, a federal court judge reversed the conviction, recognizing a "great wrong" had been done to him, and, by extension, to all citizens who had been similarly confined.

In her decision, Judge Marilyn Patel said Korematsu vs. U.S. " stands as a constant caution that in times of war or declared military necessity our institutions must be vigilant in protecting constitutional guarantees."

Those words came to ring hollow for Fred Korematsu, who died last week at age 86.

Though through most of his life he kept quiet about his experiences, in recent years he began speaking out as he saw other Americans who had visages, customs and ancestries different from the majority's targeted in the wake of September 11.

"We can't let that happen again," he said. Unfortunately, it has.

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