HONOLULU (KHON2) — Some Hawaii Island residents are concerned about dog attacks. The latest attack was on Saturday, May 27, involving 32-year-old Amber Clausen. A Puna lawmaker is worried there could be more.
“More and more people are super concerned about aggressive dogs that break their chain or just having very irresponsible dog owners,” said Sen. Joy San Buenaventura.
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Hawaii County Police oversees animal control through a pilot program.
Heather Kimball, Hawaii County Council chair, said, “After watching that operate for a little, we determined that, in order to best meet the needs of the community with respect to animal control services, it really needed to be its own agency.”
The Hawaii County Council voted to create an animal control and protection agency, which will be tasked with sheltering abused animals, but also responding to aggressive dogs and attacks.
“The police will still be involved. Our new agency has a lot of powers, but the power to arrest somebody and the power to follow through with that remains with the police,” said Hawaii County Managing Director Lee Lord.
Lord said they are behind with hiring an agency administrator and looking to hire 45 employees as well as finish retrofitting a new shelter. The agency will be up and running on July 1.
There are currently only 16 employees on contract for Big Island police animal control.
“We’re stressing the system at this point in time; we’re hoping that come July 1, when we’re recruiting for full-time permanent positions, the number of applicants will increase,” said Lord.
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“We really do need Hawaii County to step up and get their animal control taken cared of so that hopefully we can cite and prevent this kind of dog attack,” said Buenaventura.