Multiple dog death case moves ahead in court

The man accused of 40 counts of animal abuse waived his right to a jury trial yesterday in Judge Trudy Senda’s district courtroom.

Anahola resident Steve A. Cummings, 47, will instead have a judge trial for the 20 counts of animal cruelty and 20 counts of animal desertion filed against him in December 2006. Cummings has pleaded “not guilty” in the case.

The charges stem from allegations that 20 abused dogs were found Dec. 6 at Cummings’ home by the Kaua‘i Humane Society.

The remains of three dogs, including a caged, decomposed carcass, also were found on Cummings’ property.

The surviving dogs were immediately taken into custody for urgent care, said Dr. Becky Rhoades, executive director of the humane society.

Rhoades said if Cummings is found guilty, the Kaua‘i Humane Society is asking for punishment to the maximum extent of the law.

“This was a very serious case of animal starvation and we’re asking for a full penalty,” she said.

Each of the 20 animal cruelty counts Cummings faces is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine; each count of animal desertion carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

That could mean up to 20 years in jail and $60,000 in fines, not including restitution that could be ordered by the judge. The Kaua‘i Humane Society is asking for roughly $11,000 in restitution fees, to reimburse their two-months of care for the animals.

The figure is calculated from the standard rate care for the 17 dogs, which is $10 a day, as well as emergency veterinary care, Rhoades said.

Cummings’ two-day trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 31 and June 1 in District Court.

• Amanda C. Gregg, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or agregg@kauaipubco.com.

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