The Hawaiian Humane Society calls it a great day for animals and those who care for them.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed six new laws on Wednesday to help protect them.
Steel-jawed traps will be prohibited with the new law signed by the governor.
While they’re aimed at catching wild animals, the Humane Society says it’s not uncommon to have domestic animals caught in them.
“We’ve had several cases where we had cats that have come in and a dog with snares still attached to their paws and those legs had to be amputated,” Hawaiian Humane Society President and CEO Pamela Burns said.
Part of the problem is that it’s just too easy for anyone to get the traps.
“Basically anyone can purchase these devices or make their own get them off the internet and set them on private property oftentimes in public property, which would be a violation,” Humane Society of the U.S. Hawaii state director Inga Gibson said.
New laws will also make it tougher on those who run puppy mills.
Anyone found guilty of misdemeanor animal cruelty offenses that involve at least 10 animals will be guilty of a felony offense. That means jail time of up to five years as well as prohibiting them from owning an animal for up to five years.
Animal rights groups point out that had these laws been in effect when the Waimanalo puppy mill was discovered, David Lee Becker, who pleaded no contest to 153 counts of animal cruelty, would have served more jail time.
“This sends a strong message to those disreputable, irresponsible large-scale breeders that you’re looking at a potential felony offense, also losing the ability to even have animals for up to five years,” Gibson said.
Another new law would have forced becker to pay the Humane Society hundreds of thousands of dollars for the care of all the dogs that were confiscated. Prosecutors say these new laws don’t just protect animals but the community in general.
“As a prosecutor what we found and studies have shown is that people who are cruel to animals are cruel to other people,” Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said.
There are also stricter laws for harming animals that are used for law enforcement such as K-9 units as well as horses.
Animal cruelty bills signed into law:
- SB635 (Relating to Animal Cruelty) provides protection for law enforcement animals as they perform their duty, and adds a definition of “law enforcement animal” to the Penal Code.
- SB328 (Relating to Animals) allows for “pet deposits” to increase rental options for tenants with pets.
- HB235 (Relating to Collection of Restitution for Crime Victims) assists humane societies in their care of animals previously subjected to animal cruelty.
- SB6 (Relating to Animal Cruelty) prohibits the use of steel-jawed leg-hold traps and limits the use of snares and certain other traps in residential areas where domesticated pets may fall victim and suffer serious injury.
- SB9 (Relating to Animals) keeps pets out of the hands of those found guilty of animal cruelty.
- SB978 (Relating to the Penal Code) provides harsher penalties for those found guilty of animal cruelty by upgrading misdemeanor cruelty offenses involving 10 or more animals to a Class C felony.