Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hawaii: Family raises concerns after dog bites 11-year-old at Kakaako park

HAWAII -- A trip to the park turned into a frightening experience for one Oahu family after a pack of dogs running loose in the park attacked their young daughter.

It happened Saturday afternoon at Kakaako Waterfront Park.

The family told us about eight to 10 dogs surrounded their 11-year-old daughter, and one of them bit her on the leg.

Police tell us the child was taken to the hospital for her injuries, which were not life-threatening.

By the time officers got there, the dogs were gone and there was nothing police could do, so the family turned to Action Line to share their story and find out what’s being done to protect park users.

The family did not want to be identified but says they hardly visit the Kakaako park. Unfortunately, the day that they did became a horrifying experience.

The mother says her three children were running up and down the hills and weren’t doing anything to provoke the dogs, but the family believes the dogs may have been territorial.

“So as the three kids were running down the hill towards me, my daughter came first. When she passed them, the whole pack of dogs stood up and started barking and chasing her the rest of the way down the hill,” the mother said.

“They just started jumping and circling around me,” the 11-year-old said. “My mom’s friend was with us, so he picked me up, and I think that’s when the dog bit me.”

“It was a matter of 20 to 30 seconds,” the mother said. “It was really, really fast, and they surrounded her and they were kind of barking and jumping on her. We didn’t think they they were going to bite her. We just thought they were getting excited, so we ran over there to pick her up, but we didn’t know they already bit her leg.”

The Hawaiian Humane Society says it did not receive a report about this incident, but it has received complaints about dogs on the loose at the park.

“We try to go out there regularly, because we know it’s an ongoing issue with dogs in the area,” said Harold Han, Hawaiian Humane Society. “We do education about the leash law and keeping their dogs secured. In some cases last year, we actually cited for dangerous dog in the park.”

The rule at Kakaako Waterfront Park is to keep pets on leashes or caged at all times.

But if a dog is not leashed or looks dangerous, “anytime something like this happens, it’s really important that public call 911,” Han said.

If the animal is coming toward you, “anything you use as to block an attack whether it be a big bag an umbrella a clipboard anything like that to get something to be a barrier,” he advised. If you don’t have anything, “then walk in the opposite direction slowly don’t run because once you start running they will chase.”

The Hawaii Community Development Authority has jurisdiction over Kakaako Waterfront Park. We got answers from them about what they’re doing to address this incident.

The agency told us that staff went to the park after they got wind of the incident, and reminded park users that pets should never be off-leash and that anyone caught breaking the rules will be cited.

HCDA is also working on implementing new rules at the park.

“Issues like tent stakes in the park. It’s not good for the park management, not good for the grass,” said Jesse Souki, Hawaii Community Development Authority. “Issues about the size of the structures you put up. The park, again, has to be open for everyone, so we have to be sure that when those types of structures are put up, they’re temporary and for the enjoy of the park.”

The governor still needs to sign off on the new rules.

When it takes effect, violators will be fined $50 for the first offense and $100 for the second or third offenses, and $500 for repeated offenses.

(KHON - Jan 20, 2017)

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