HONOLULU (KHON2) — An Oahu bulldog will be paralyzed for the rest of his life after being shot in the back.

It is a story that made KHON2 wonder how Hawaii’s animal cruelty laws work and how often cases end up going to trial.

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Buddha the bulldog was brought to the veterinarian at Oahu SPCA a few weeks ago, but it was months after his owners had left him with a friend to go on vacation.

“And unfortunately that friend was a very bad choice because he shot the dog while his owners were away,” said Kristen Hudson, Oahu SPCA Operations and Development director.

“Because it had been close to six months since the bullet wound, they determined that he was not going to be a candidate for surgery.”

Kristen Hudson, Oahu SPCA Operations and Development director

There are two degrees of animal cruelty in Hawaii; first and second. KHON2 spoke to former judge Randal Lee for some context.

“The distinction is the seriousness of the injury. In the first-degree, the abuse has to result in either death or serious bodily injury, which means protracted loss of a bodily function,” Lee said.

Lee said Buddha’s loss of leg function falls into first-degree territory — a Class C felony that carries up to five years in prison. Second-degree animal cruelty is a misdemeanor that carries up to one year in jail.

The Oahu SPCA said Buddha’s owners never reported his case.

“Because if they had, then the abuser would’ve been pursued by law enforcement, animal control, because hurting animals is not okay,” Hudson said.

The Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office said only one case of first-degree animal cruelty has been referred to them in 2022 by Honolulu police, charges were filed. Lee added that animal cruelty cases are hard to prove without a witness.

“The difficult things about proving these cases is that you have to prove who’s the perpetrator and whether or not the perpetrator caused that injury,” Lee said.

There is a happy ending when it comes to Buddha’s story, even though the veterinarians could not remove the bullet from his back.

“But we knew that Buddha still had a chance! We got him a really good foster home for three weeks and I’m happy to say that he was actually adopted today,” Hudson said.

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Buddha was officially adopted by his new family on Thursday, July 7.