HONOLULU (KHON2) — More enforcement and a change in attitude is what a Hawaii Island woman is demanding after her father was killed in a dog attack in August.
Other community members said loose dogs are an ongoing problem.
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Shannon Matson — Robert Northrop’s daughter — said her dad was always an animal lover, like many others in Hawaii County.
“Then there’s also this group of folks that, you know, don’t seem to regard the safety and well-being of their animals as important,” Matson said.
Hawaii police said witnesses saw Northrop being attacked by four large dogs in the roadway on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
“That’s what’s so devastating about my father’s death, is that it was preventable. It was avoidable,” Matson said.
Police said the dogs involved in that fatal incident were euthanized, but Big Island Farm Sanctuary founder Paula Buck said harassment from canines is an ongoing threat.
Buck said seven of her animals have been killed since November 2022. Five more are currently wounded and Buck said most of the attacks happen at night.
“So they’re coming over when I’m asleep,” Buck said, “and by the time we hear it happening and get out there, the sheep are already being attacked, the dogs know we’re on our way, so they’re running back up the hill to home and the damage has been done.”
Hawaii County Animal Control’s administrator said dogs do not necessarily have to be chained up if it is on its owner’s property.
“If they leave the property, the owner is required to have that animal on a leash,” Hawaii County Animal Control administrator Mathew Runnells said.
Northrop’s daughter wants stronger enforcement of that law and a change of heart from the community.
“While nothing’s going to bring our father back, knowing that we’ve made some serious efforts as a community to make sure that this never happens to anyone else again, will give us some peace,” Matson said.
Animal Control — previously run by the Humane Society and then Hawaii police — became an official County agency on Saturday, July 1 and Rummells started his role on Friday, Sept. 1.
“We ask that, you know, people are a little patient just because we are, we are working tirelessly to try to build up the agency to be able to accommodate this,” Rummells said.
Rummells said they currently have less than 30 workers and are in the process of hiring about 15 more.