Hawaii has earned yet another black mark when it comes to animal welfare. Already one of the “Five Best States to Be an Animal Abuser,” it appears Hawaii now has the distinction of having its own puppy mill. (Previously, pedigree dog fanciers had to be content with importing dogs from out-of-state puppy mills.)

Earlier this week,  Last Chance for Animals released details of their investigation of a breeding facility called Bradley Hawaiian Puppies. A former employee had contacted LCA in June, 2010 to inform them of horrible conditions at the facility. “That’s their bed also serving as their food trough. You have three different breeds in one kennel for a total of seven dogs,” said the ex-employee. “I have never witnessed a dog being walked or let out of a cage for exercise.” LCA dispatched an investigator who worked undercover at Bradley Hawaiian Puppies. What he saw was heart-wrenching.

“There were about 130 dogs, puppies and adults, all different types of breeds,” he reported. “It was almost impossible to breathe at times, the smell of feces and urine permeated the property. The sick and injured dogs, including a dog with a cancerous tumor, were caged indoors 24/7, with no special treatment given to them whatsoever.”

When asked about the LCA’s findings, Vernon Luke, a former manager at the puppy mill, said “I don’t think it is that serious.” Dave Becker, the current owner of Bradley Hawaiian Puppies, was even more succinct: “What’s the big deal?”

Sadly, looking at the situation from a legal point of view, it isn’t a big deal. Hawaii has notoriously lax laws to protect animals from abuse, and the laws regarding puppy mills are no exception. According to Keoni Vaughn, the Field Services Manager at Hawaiian Humane Society, “The laws and the courts, the way they are here are overwhelmingly in favor of the owner of the animals, even in cases of cockfighting.” “Hawaii definitely needs stricter laws,” said Mark Goff of LCA. “I am surprised at a state with people that are so compassionate and so much about aloha that they’re allowing situations like this just because I don’t think they’re knowledgeable about it.”

As a longtime Hawaii resident, I wish I could say I was shocked by this story, but I’m not. I’ve seen too much evidence of the cruel attitudes towards animals that still exists in the Aloha State. There are glimmers of hope, however. State Senator Clayton Hee is a stalwart champion of animals and the environment. When shown the video footage of Bradley Hawaiian Puppies, he said, “After seeing this it’s clear I’ll introduce a bill requiring puppy mills to be regulated … It’s unfortunate that the profit motives of people are such that animals and pets in particular should suffer.”

I wish Senator Hee luck. Hawaii’s animals need all the help they can get.

Photo Credit: Last Chance for Animals

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