Hawai‘i County Council discussing bill to create animal control and protection agency
The Hawai‘i County Council will discuss a proposed bill that would create an “Animal Control and Protection Agency.”
The discussion will take place during the council’s Committee on Governmental Operations and External Affairs at the Hawai’i County Building, 25 Aupuni St. in Hilo on Feb. 7 at 1 p.m.
Bill 22 proposes the creation of the new agency, which would continue the county’s pilot program that had the Hawai’i Police Department take over animal control duties in July 2021.
The responsibility for county animal control had historically been contracted to the Hawai‘i Island Humane Society, but the organization declined to submit a bid during contract renegotiations in 2020. The Hawai’i Rainbow Rangers were scheduled to take over the county animal control contract in November 2020 but did not due so until April 2021. The contract was terminated in June 2021 because the organization could not meet the requirement.
While the current pilot program was in place, a multi-agency collaboration concluded that care and maintenance of impounded animals requires oversight and operation by a dedicated agency. The result, a bill crafted through cooperation between Council Chair Heather Kimball, Council Member Cynthia Evans, the Roth Administration, and the Police Department, should receive its first reading on Feb. 21 before a County Council committee.
“We understand and appreciate the importance of animal control services within each of our communities and we are optimistic that Bill 22 will be well-received at council,” Kimball said. “The goal is to pass this bill in time to have the newly proposed agency funded in this year’s county budget so it can quickly and properly address these important animal control concerns of our community.”
The Hawai‘i County Code and state law require the county to feed and shelter impounded dogs, cats and domesticated animals. This includes dogs confiscated under the county’s dangerous dog law. However, other services formerly provided by the Hawai‘i Island Humane Society, such as spay and neutering programs or accepting feral animals, are not required to be performed by the county. The Hawai‘i Island Humane Society and other nonprofit organizations help to provide these services.
After the agency is created, collaboration will continue between the administration and other partners to determine how best to address issues currently outside the purview of the county’s responsibility, such as population reduction and feral animal control.
“We’re confident that this collaboration will lead to efficient and compassionate response to this issue, which touches so many people and communities,” Mayor Mitch Roth said. “Let’s work together toward an acceptable resolution.”
To testify on Bill 22, contact Council Services at 808-961-8255.