Hawaii Considers Two Bills Affecting Dog Owners

Legislators introduce a ban on dog tethering and ownership of pit bulls.

Hawaii legislators have introduced two bills affecting dog owners. One measure would prohibit the tethering of dogs to stationary objects and the other would prohibit ownership of a pit bull.

The Senate Committee on Water, Land, and Agriculture & Hawaiian Affairs scheduled a public hearing on the tethering bill, Senate Bill 30, for Friday, Jan. 30, at 3 p.m.

Senate Bill 30 states that the practice of animal tethering causes many pets to suffer needlessly and increases the risk of an animal posing a danger to the public. If passed, the bill would make it illegal to tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog to a doghouse, tree, fence, or any other stationary object.

The proposed legislation does make exceptions. A dog may be tethered pursuant to the requirements of a camping or recreational area. In addition, a person can tether a dog for a “reasonable” period of time in order to complete a temporary task. A reasonable period is defined not exceeding three hours in a 24-hour period.

Other exceptions are made for herding cattle or livestock, cultivating agricultural products, and activity conducted pursuant to a valid state license that is associated with the use or presence of a dog.

Acceptable means of tethering are provided in the proposed legislation. According to the bill, a person may attach a dog to a running line, pulley, or trolley system, so long as the dog is not attached by means of a choke collar or pinch collar.

If the bill is approved, those found in violation would be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Senate Bill 70, which has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations, would make it a misdemeanor to own, possess, or sell a pit bull. “Pit bull” is defined as any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of those breeds.

It also defines a pit bull as any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of those breeds.

A public hearing for Senate Bill 70 has not been scheduled at this point.

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