HONOLULU (KHON2) — On June 7, Hawaii became the 48th state to ban animal sexual assault, taking a step forward in the fight against animal abuse.

In addition to the ban on sexual assault the state passed two other bills that work to offer animal and animal care protections.

Hawaii House Bill 416 prohibits unsafe tethering practices and the unsupervised tethering of puppies.

“I am grateful to the bill sponsors, House and Senate leaders and our community advocates for supporting Hawaiian Humane’s commitment to enacting laws to protect the animals of Hawaii and their caretakers,” said Steph Kendrick, Public Policy Advocate for the Hawaiian Humane Society. 

Kendrick said animal lovers constantly ask the Hawaiian Humane Society about expanding the tether restrictions to all dogs. She said that is not a stance the organization supports.

“It’s kind of an equity issue honestly,” Kendrick said. “There are a lot of situations particularly for renters where that’s the only choice they have is to tether their animals when they are not around. Either their landlord won’t let them keep their animal inside, the yard isn’t fenced, they can’t afford to fence it it’s not their property anyway.”

Act 91 protects veterinarians from civil liability for rendering emergency aid to an animal and require veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty. The law will allow animals to receive care even if an owner cannot be located.

Without this protection, veterinarians like Dr. Douglas Chang can be placed in a tough spot.

Dr. Chang said, “That is a philosophical decision that I’ve made in the past, get involved and be subject to that and hopefully the law will see it in context.”

The new laws carry punishments of up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.