HONOLULU (KHON2) - Dog owners beware! Walking your dog in a park prohibiting animals could cost you up to $500.
Linda Hughes has walked her dog through Kailua District Park three times a week for more than a year.
She said she had no idea dogs weren't allowed there until an officer gave her a ticket.
"A policeman barreled across the field to give me criminal citation, and I'm like, for what?" Hughes asked. "She explained that it was against the law to have my dog anywhere in the park."
Hughes tried to explain that she'd never seen the sign.
"I came from the condominiums across the street, never pass by the middle of the park," Hughes said, "so I never saw a sign that said I couldn't have an animal here."
Hughes went to court to fight the citation.
"I could have paid a $50 fine right then and there, which I should have done in retrospect," Hughes said, "But I didn't know that until after I pleaded innocent."
A citation for animal prohibited in the park (section 10-1(A)(2) is considered a petty misdemeanor.
Hughes is now facing a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in jail. She needs to return to court in June.
She said she's not alone.
"I've met probably four or five people since that have gotten the same citations," Hughes said. "We're all, everyone of us, are just totally flabbergasted about the whole thing."
If dogs aren't allowed in Kailua District Park, what parks in Kailua are dog-friendly?
The city Department of Parks and Recreation website lists four parks in Kailua that allow people to walk their leashed dogs in them:
- Pohakupu Mini Park
- Kawainui Neighborhood Park
- Enchanted Lake Community Park
- Kaelepulu Mini Park
According to the website, dogs are allowed, but if you go to the park, there are signs that say otherwise.
"Every single one of these parks have a sign that says no animals allowed," Hughes said.
Council member Ikaika Anderson said he's trying to find out why.
"We will work with the department towards that end in clarifying which parks the department feels would be able to allow folks to bring their leashed dogs into," Anderson said.
A spokesperson from the Department of Parks and Recreation said most of the signs say "No Animals" but on-leash parks normally have an additional line below explaining that leashed dogs are allowed. The city plans to make changes to the signs to reflect this.
Anderson said he is also working to designate a standalone dog park for Kailua.
"We're working with the Caldwell administration toward that end," Anderson said. "The desired site that we'd like to see is the Bayview Community Park, which is currently being used as a staging area as the city finishes up our Kailua, Kaneohe sewer project."
There is no timeline as to when the park would be available, or even if it would definitely be approved as a dog park.
Meanwhile Hughes and her dog, Kayla, are looking for a park they can go to without fear of being fined.
"There should be something for us," Hughes said.