Honolulu Animal Welfare Laws Get a Needed Update With Bill 59

Real Estate Agent with HI Pro Realty LLC RB-21531 RS-76763

Dog Walker


Bill 59  (2019), FD1, CD2



On January 29, 2020, Bill 59 was adopted by the Honolulu City Council to address animal welfare issues in the City and County of Honolulu. The bill represents the most significant advancement in Oahu’s animal laws in 25 years and was sponsored by Council member Ann Kobayashi. The bill is awaiting Mayor Kirk Caldwell's signature and its provisions will take effect on July 1, 2020.


Over the 2020 legislative session, the Hawaiian Humane Society worked with the Honolulu City Council on a comprehensive update to Honolulu county animal welfare laws. Bill 59 was put together to help the Humane Society 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.




View Bill 59 Here



Bill 59 (2019), FD1, CD2 RELATING TO ANIMALS.

The PROPOSED FD2 makes the following amendments:

  1. Removes a reference to Chapter 143, Hawaii Revised Statutes, from Section 7- 4.3, Revised Ordinances of Honolulu 1990 ("ROH"), which deals with the impounding of dogs.

  2. Adds a new section to both ROH Chapter 7, Article 4 that deals with the regulation of dogs and ROH Chapter 7, Article 6 that deals with the cat identification program to require that the animal control contractor must make certain determinations as to the dog or cat's health or behavior, or be requested by the dog or cat's owner to euthanize the animal, before the animal control contractor may euthanize a dog or cat in its custody.

  3. Adds another reporting requirement to the annual report relating to the impounding of stray dogs and cats required to be submitted by the animal control contractor to the Department of Customer Services, to include the number of dogs and cats that were placed in foster care.

  4. Makes changes to comport with current drafting conventions.

  5. Makes miscellaneous technical and non-substantive amendments.






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.

Pet Micro Chip


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 advocacy@hawaiianhum





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