Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hawaii lawmakers may criminalize pet owners who give away their kittens or puppies -- Commentary

Cute kittens, courtesy photo by Adriano
If pets are outlawed, only outlaws will have pets.

This take on a bill now up on the Hawaii Legislature is admittedly extreme, but not that far off the mark considering SB2504 makes it a misdemeanor to sell or give away your dogs, cats, puppies or kittens without first having them spayed or neutered and microchips implanted in them. Big Brother has arrived, at least for your pets.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku, La'ie, Ka'a'awa, Kane'ohe, is up for consideration at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, by the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee and Economic Development and Technology Committee.

Hee undoubtedly has good intentions. Feral cats are a huge problem in Hawaii, where, with few natural predators, they breed large colonies and threaten native songbirds.

But taking away even more rights from the citizenry is probably not the way to go. What next? Microchipping our children?

Golden retriever puppy, courtesy Daisy Parker
"Importation of dogs to the Hawaiian Islands is limited and strictly regulated. If all cats and dogs sold or given away must be sterilized, it calls into question where citizens of Hawaii will obtain future generations of pets," warns the American Kennel Club in a public appeal for opposition to the bill.

Lucky we live in Hawaii, where lawmakers steadily add laws to the books but no one actually enforces them. Otherwise, life in the "People's Republic" would be even more onerous than it already is.

But what do you think a pet owner with an unplanned litter is going to do with all the babies? Start with $20 to microchip each kitten, add another $50 to sterilize it, and for a litter of six, you are talking serious kala.

Chances are, those pets are only going to be added to the feral colonies when the owner dumps them in the nearest forest instead of palming a few off on friends and neighbors. This only perpetuates the very problem the bill is trying to fix. And these animals are in for a worse life, not a better one.

How much better if all this effort and angst would go toward voluntary and free spaying and neutering programs and funding for the Department of Land and Natural Resources to trap and euthanize the feral cats on public land.

Ironically, just when they're needed most, spaying and neutering assistance programs have been discontinued by the Hawaiian Humane Society, because the City and County of Honolulu cut the funding.

You, the public, have to take personal responsibility if you don't want Big Brother to step in.
  • Don't feed feral animals. It only causes them to breed more of them.
  • Keep your pet inside or confined unless you're out with him.
  • Spay or neuter your pet. Keep looking for programs to help reduce the cost.
  • Lobby your state and local government to put more money into prevention and education, and quit trying to dictate every aspect of our lives.
 Thanks for your consideration.