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Squatters in Paradise… Dogs on the Loose – What is the Solution?

Mahalo to Pahoa Community Police Officer Pacheco for helping to secure this building that has been an ongoing problem with squatters, homelessness and drugs here in Pahoa for the last few years.

BEFORE:

Photo by Sean King

Photo by Sean King

AFTER:

After the police secured the building

After the police secured the building

We have a serious problem here in Puna and that is that folks are just taking over houses that are foreclosed and there is nothing the local police can do.  Here is an example of a recent letter I received with some things cut out to ensure their privacy:

Aloha Neighbors,

I know everyone is quite busy, so I will keep this as concise as I can.

I thought I would keep you abreast of a few issues that have happened in your neighborhood.  BTW, thank you for keeping me in the loop with other concerns happening in our neighborhood, past or present.

#1.  There has been squatters that have moved in the house on Kula Street. Some of you may know this as (edited) old place.

What I can tell you is this:

-They have established electricity

– The police can not do anything since it is a civil matter, not criminal.

-Chase Bank owns the house, and is paying the taxes on it.

– The Leilani Community Association can not do anything to help in this regard per advise of there consult with an attorney.

-The owner is the only one who can order these people to leave.

-Chase bank is not very forthcoming about taking possession of the house since there are at lease $40k in liens against the property. (btw, formally foreclosed in 2009 by the court system).

-There are several people that come and go all hours of the day/night.

-I do not want to pursue calling in a drug suspicion, as I do not want any retribution…

-Charlie Stanton, Leilani resident, has been kind to patrol the streets of Leilani as Neighborhood Watch, and knows of this matter and has even taken photos of a few cars as they have drove by and decided not to stop at the house as he was present.  Thank you Charlie.

Has anyone else been faced with this kind of issue or maybe can shed some light on this matter? Maybe an elected official?

And,

#2.  On Friday, June 7th, (EDIT) roughtweiler attacked my dog in our front yard. I have asked her repeatedly to keep her dog restrained.  I have filed a police report in regard to this issue and my dog will need an expensive surgery to walk normal again.  The police have filed this as a vicious dog claim. The officer who reported to the call is Officer C. Arnold. He said to call the Humane Society every time I see the dog out of the owners yard.  The Humane Society said that every photograph of the violation will result in a fine. As many of you may know, this is not the first time I have had to deal with a vicious dog issue on my property.

Thank you for taking the time to read over the information in this email. If you have insight or know of a good resources to tap for more info to move either of these issues forward, I would be very happy to hear about them.  Also, if you would like to connect this email to others in our neighborhood who may want to know about this matter, please do so.

Stay safe and have a fantastic Friday!

So with that being said… does anyone have any advice?

Dog Attacks in Puna… Public Safety Meeting to Address Enforcement Issues

This post is to honor Big Island resident, Wayne Joseph, who just underwent brain surgery.

Click Graph to read who has the highest risk of beng bitten by dogs

Recently, well known Puna resident Wayne “Big Dog” Joseph was attacked and bitten on the ankle by a dog as he was on one of his daily jogs.

Joseph took legal recourse against the owner of the dog and wrote on a post entitled, “Dog bite saga goes to court and the Big Dog gets the last laugh“:

Knowing that you are right and fighting for what is right sometimes requires patience and perseverance to see things through.

On April 14, 2011 a dog belonging to an irresponsible owner sunk its teeth into my leg.  I needed to follow through with legal system to insure that this would never happen again to anyone

Unfortunately another dog attack has happened and I received the following email regarding a public safety meeting that will be addressing this situation and the enforcement issues that arise because of these incidents:

There will be a public safety meeting at Leilani Community Center Feb 28, 7pm.

This meeting has been organized following a shocking (but, sadly, not rare) incident first brought to light in this letter which appeared in Big Island Weekly earlier in the month:

…On August 31, 2011, I was on my usual walk and we turned the corner to be confronted by the same four dogs. This time they were on the street and immediately proceeded to attack my dog and myself. I cannot begin to describe the terror and helplessness that I felt during this awful attack. The leader of the pack was a large pit bull that tried to get a hold on my dog’s throat, but only got her shoulder and proceeded to drag her into a ditch. While this was going on, I was being savagely attacked by the other three dogs that took turns rushing in and biting me while I was desperately trying to get the pit bull off of my dog. All the while I was screaming for help at the top of my lungs. A woman came out onto her deck and screamed that she was calling 911 and was too afraid to come to my aid. As I was being attacked I could hear the woman telling the dispatcher what was going on. Unbelievably the dispatcher wanted to send out an officer to take a report. The woman screamed that I was being torn to shreds and a life was in danger. The pit bull was wearing a collar and I managed to get a hold of it and started twisting and eventually cut off the dogs air supply causing it to let go of my dog who immediately took off running for home with the other three dogs in pursuit. I was able to subdue the pit bull by laying on top of it with a choke hold…

More here: http://bigislandweekly.com/news/letter-to-the-editor-5.html

I have since talked with the author of the letter, Joel Foster, who was attacked by dogs in Leilani. The Hawaii County Police tried to dismiss the incident as something they could do nothing about.  Joel refused to let them ignore it.

The issue here is Police responsiveness and equal enforcement of laws.  As horrible as it may sound, dog attacks are not uncommon in Hawaii County, yet enforcement of existing laws regarding such attacks is uncommon.

If you are able, please consider being present at this meeting to show support for public safety.

Anyone who has a similar story to relate, regarding dog attacks and/or inadequate police responsiveness in a matter of public safety, will be invited to share that story so that the wider community can learn from it.