Mililani family says illegal fireworks prompted dogs to escape, attack bystanders

Local News

Honolulu police are receiving even more complaints about fireworks going off on Oahu.

HPD says there have been around 750 911 calls related to fireworks since Dec. 1 alone. That’s nearly 250 calls since our last report on Dec. 15.

It’s a problem that’s already led to other troubles for one Mililani family.

Family members contacted us using the Report It feature on our website, because they say their two dogs escaped from the house after hearing fireworks. The dogs then attacked two people.

The family says they did everything they could to keep the dogs in the house, and they’re accepting responsibility for what happened.

But they’re hoping that by sharing their story, something can be done to fix the fireworks problem.

Jabu and Jala are nearly four years old. Owner Jon James says they’ve been part of the family since they were just a few weeks old, and they’ve never showed any aggression.

But in the past few weeks, James says the constant loud booms from illegal fireworks have driven the dogs into a frenzied state.

Two weekends ago, the family went out and left the dogs inside a bedroom.

“So we come home and there’s just drywall everywhere. They ripped off the side moldings and everything and they’re just scared out of their mind into a frenzy,” James said.

It got worse. On Sunday, James said they weren’t home, but neighbors heard the fireworks again, so Jabu and Jala got out of the backyard — first through a metal gate, and then through another door with a wooden beam to keep it closed.

“They jiggled it out. They keep pounding on the door. We just recently raised these, so that hopefully this won’t happen again,” said Lynda James.

After the dogs got out, they ran after a woman who happened to be walking by and attacked her. One of the neighbors heard all this happening so she tried to help and that’s when she was bitten.

The two women went to the hospital for their injuries.

The family now face a possible lawsuit and losing their dogs, but they’re also making a plea for people to stop the aerial fireworks and for neighbors to report it to police when they see it.

“The next time, this could be their family member or their child, worse a child getting mauled like that,” said Jon James.

We asked the experts about what dog owners can do. Veterinarians can prescribe tranquilizers, but they also have herbal supplements that help with anxiety.

“We also have pheromones we can use, that you can spray in the cages or in the room that might calm your pet down,” said veterinarian Dr. Richard Fujie.

Experts also suggest taking your dog to a kennel or a day care service rather than leaving the dogs on their own.

“If there’s fireworks already going off and they have to go to work, and their dogs are very noise-sensitive, it doesn’t fix the problem, but it at least keeps the dogs safe,” said animal behaviorist Wendy Mah.

The injured victims filed a police report but at this point, have not filed any charges against the owners of the dogs.

HPD is also asking residents to report any type of illegal fireworks activity. Anyone caught using or selling illegal fireworks can face up to five years in jail and a $2,000 fine.

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