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Rock Star Teaming Up With Lawmakers to Fight Animal Cruelty
Photo: Hawaii Tribune Herald

I love stories of celebrities lending their famous face to a good cause. It’s always nice to see them use their powers for good. For those of you who don’t know Jane Wiedlin, she was part of the infamous 80s band The Go-Go’s, and now she’s using her celeb status to help save dogs in need.

Russell Ruderman is a Democratic senator from Hawaii. The Aloha State may be known around the world for its beautiful sandy beaches, excellent surfing and unbelievable scenery, but locals also know that the state has a severe problem with animal cruelty. Wiedlin and Ruderman are teaming up to try to curb the problem.

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Rock Star Teaming Up With Lawmakers to Fight Animal Cruelty
Photo: virtual corey

Upon request from Wiedlin, Ruderman has proposed Senate Bills 2263, 2273 and 2270. Wiedlin moved to Hawaii last summer and realized quickly that something needed to be done to help the animals in need. She believes that current laws aren’t strict enough, and that’s why she enlisted the help of her friend Senator Ruderman.

Senate Bill 2263 would ban the raising and slaughtering of canines for human consumption. It would also amend the definition of “pet dog” in state laws to include all canines instead of just the ones who are not bred for consumption by humans, which is how the term is currently defined. Current laws provide this loophole, making it very difficult for law enforcement to prosecute offenders.

Wiedlin says that although she has never witnessed anyone consuming dog meat, she has heard people talking about the practice and knows that it is an issue in the state. The director of the state’s chapter of the Humane Society of the United States reports that she gets about 5 calls per year that are related to the consumption of dog meat.

The director, Inga Gibson, says that the evidence for these claims is usually circumstantial, and it usually involves some type of backyard business, which also makes it hard to enforce the current laws. The new law would make it easier for officials to enforce the rules and prosecute violators.

Senate Bill 2273 would tighten the existing animal cruelty laws. It would set a limit of three adult dogs per person. If someone owned more than three adult dogs they would need to obtain a kennel license. It would also establish rules regarding permanently tethering dogs.

Among other things, it would require that a tether must be at least 10 feet long. This law would also make it possible for authorities to seize pets after the owner’s third animal cruelty offense. The owners would also be automatically placed on a county registry of people who are unfit to own dogs.

This same bill would also require a $20 registration fee per dog, and set a three-year fee waiver is the pet is spayed or neutered. The third bill focusses on animal control officers. It will require them to complete a state veterinarian-created training course in order to be certified.

Rock Star Teaming Up With Lawmakers to Fight Animal Cruelty
Photo: Juan Pedro Diez

Senate Bill 2270 would also give animal control officers the authority to seize or inspect animals that are suspected to have been abandoned, mistreated or believed to be in an unsafe environment/situation. Both Wiedlin and Ruderman believe that there are some major problems in Hawaii relating to animal cruelty and they are hoping that these bills will go a long way in rectifying some of the most important issues.

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Ruderman has attempted to pass many other animal cruelty bills in the past, but Wiedlin says this is her first time dipping into politics. The rocker owns several cats and dogs that she has adopted form local rescue groups, and she says that she has never seen more animal cruelty than what she found when she moved to Hawaii.

It is common to see dogs on the islands chained outside or living in outdoor kennels. Of course, the weather gets very hot in Hawaii and many of the dogs do not have the shelter or resources they need to be outside in these conditions. Wiedlin also commented on the number of unsprayed and unneutered dogs that there are on the islands.