During the 2020 legislative session, the Hawaiian Humane Society worked with the Honolulu City Council on a comprehensive update to our county animal welfare laws. Bill 59 was put together to help us save lives by increasing the number of pets with permanent identification, making abandoned animals available for adoption more quickly, reducing the incidence of illness and distress in shelter animals, focusing resources on the animals with the greatest needs, reducing pet overpopulation, and keeping our pets and our community safe.
Bill 59 was adopted by the Honolulu City Council on January 29, 2020, ushering in the most significant advancement in Oahu’s animal laws in 25 years. Hawaiian Humane is grateful to Councilmember Ann Kobayashi for sponsoring the bill, the Honolulu City Council for passing this much needed update to Oahu’s animal welfare laws and to all of the community members who advocated for life-saving positive change.
It will go next to Mayor Kirk Caldwell for signature and its provisions will take effect on July 1, 2020.
Learn more about this bill below.
Why does Bill 59 reduce the mandatory minimum hold time from nine days to five days?
When the current nine day hold for licensed dogs was put in place there was no public internet. Cell phones had just been invented. These tools have allowed lost pets to get back home much more quickly than they did more than 30 years ago. In fact, nearly 90% of stray animals brought to the Society with ID are already reclaimed by their owners within five days.
Also, in the intervening decades, a growing body of research has shown that shorter shelter stays produce better results for animals by reducing the incidence of illness and distress. As a result, hold times across the country now average to 3-5 days.
What happens if an owner is unable to make the five-day window due to travel or some other obstacle?
Hawaiian Humane is willing to work with any owner who is making a good-faith effort to reclaim their animal or arrange private boarding. The Society also offers emergency foster care for pet owners facing unexpected hardships or domestic violence. It is important to note, Bill 59 only reduces the minimum hold time. The Hawaiian Humane Society regularly cares for animals for longer than the legal minimums when it is in the animal’s best interests that we do so.
Will reducing the hold time mean more animals will be euthanized?
The result should be exactly the opposite. Shorter hold times for animals who are unclaimed by their owners will lower their risk of illness and distress and allow them to be made available for adoption more quickly. In fact, the shorter hold time will allow more shelter resources to be focused on those animals with the greatest needs, which will allow us to save more lives.
Why are hold fees increasing so dramatically, from $2.50 to $10 per day?
The $2.50 daily fee for animal holding has not changed since it was first established in 1983. It is far below the true cost of care an animal receives, which we conservatively estimate at $12-$15 a day.
The $10 fee is similar to hold fees on the neighbor islands, which range from $10 to $20 per day.
Private kennel boarding costs on Oahu range from $18-$75 for cats and $35-$85 for dogs.
Why does the bill require that microchips be registered with the manufacturer and the county animal service provider?
That requirement is being removed. That language dates back to the establishment of the Cat Identification Act in 1995 when microchip technology was relatively new and there was concern about how databases would be maintained. Given easy online access to microchip registries, the Society has agreed to remove the double reporting requirement in the next draft of the bill.
Will the bill force people to spend money on microchip registration?
No. Pet owners can have their microchips implanted at any veterinary clinic or animal welfare nonprofit and those chips can be from any manufacturer. Most microchip manufacturers offer a free option for registering and updating microchip information and https://www.foundanimals.org/ will register any microchip for free. There should be no cost barrier to keeping a pet owner’s contact information current.
Why does the bill restrict leash length to four feet and prevent children from walking their dogs?
Those restrictions are provisions of the existing City ordinance, they are not a result of the bill, and they only apply to dogs that have been registered as dangerous with the City animal control service.
For further questions about Bill 59, email email@example.com.