Hawai‘i County Council passes resolution urging state to increase penalties for owners of vicious dogs

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Hawai‘i County Council passed a measure urging the State Legislature to increase fines and penalties for dog owners whose animals attack a person.

The passage of Resolution 430-24 on Wednesday comes as state lawmakers get ready to hear public testimony on Senate Bill 2692, which would make owners of a dangerous dog or dogs that fatally maul a person subject to felony charges.

County Councilwoman Jennifer Kagiwada introduced the resolution and encouraged the public to follow SB2692 and voice their support. A public hearing on the state measure is slated for Feb. 27 at 9:30 a.m.

During the council meeting Wednesday, Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy said providing testimony on the state measures sends a strong message that Hawai‘i Island supports changing state law.

With vicious dog attacks being an ongoing problem on Hawai‘i Island, the council passed an ordinance in 2022 that made it possible to prosecute people with dangerous dogs that maimed or killed people as a felony.


However, without a state law equivalent, the county’s ordinance couldn’t be implemented. As a result, families victimized by vicious dogs are at a loss as there seems to be no justice.

Bob Northrop, an Ocean View man died after being mauled by a pack of dogs in August. Charges in his death have yet to be filed. The lack of action by law enforcement has his family frustrated.

“It doesn’t make sense to me. None of this makes sense to me,” said Northrop’s daughter Anna Schamber.

Among testifiers in support of the county measure on Wednesday were Shalaye Newman and her 8-year-old daughter Violet who related to the council their harrowing experience two years ago when the young girl was attacked by a dog while walking home from school with her sister in Puna.


Violet recounted the day of the attack with the council members, saying a “guy left his gate open and the dogs ran out and attacked me.”

She is partially blind in her left eye and still doesn’t like to be around dogs playing or barking.

“It’s been hard on our family,” Newman told the council. “The biggest thing we want changed is more protocols in place so this doesn’t happen to any more sweet kids or anyone else at all.”

While the dogs that attacked Violet were put down, Newman said a judge involved in the case didn’t think it was likely the dog owners would allow an incident like that to happen again with another animal.


“He was simply given a $400 fine and required to write an apology letter,” Newman said.

After recently driving past the house where Violet was attacked, Newman said the residents have new dogs exhibiting the same behaviors, barking and growling at the fence.

The resolution also expressed support for House Bill 2058 which would establish requirements and penalties for dog owners that allow their pets to injure or kill other animals or people. This includes convicting dog owners of a class C felony for a dog attack that results in severe bodily injury, or a class B felony when the attack results in a death.

On Wednesday, another testifier with Aloha Animal Advocates said the resolution is the start of making laws that aren’t reactive, but preventative.

“Communities are suffering, animals are suffering, children are suffering,” the testifier stated.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at
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