Hot dog issue put on backburner

LIHUE — Without an explanation, the Kauai County Council deferred a bill that would bring significant increases to dog licensing fees. After passing the council’s Finance Committee last week, the bill was up for second and final reading Wednesday.

“This bill should be killed right here, but we know what the popular vote is going to be,” said hunter Robert Cremer Jr., who has testified three times against the bill.

Bill 2490 proposes to raise two-year licenses to $50 from $6 for dogs that have not been spayed or neutered. For altered dogs, the bill proposes an increase to $15 from $2.

It would also introduce a schedule of penalties, ranging from $20 to $65, for seizure and redemption of dogs.

The bill is an attempt to take a bite out of a more than $300,000 gap between services provided to the county by the Kauai Humane Society and county funding.

The county provided $760,000 (including $65,000 for spay and neuter services) this year to KHS, but the nonprofit spends about $1.1 million on county services, according to KHS Executive Director Penny Cistaro.

The proposal originally erased from current law a provision that allowed hunters to pay $6 for their first dog and $2 for each subsequent dog, regardless of whether the animal had been spayed.

After Cremer testified on June 26 that under this proposal most hunters would pay at least $500 a year in fees, Finance Committee members amended the bill last week to allow hunters to pay $15 for their first dog and $7 for each additional dog.

Even though last week’s amendment brought down considerably the burden on hunters, Cremer was still against the proposal.

To him, everyone should pay the same — if the hunters are going to pay $15 and $7 for their dogs, others shouldn’t be charged $50 and $15, he said.

“I’m not asking for not pay nothing; I want it equal across the board,” he said.

“I’m about right and fairness in my life. I’ve been crooked a lot of times in my life, from playing Pop Warner (football) to everything in my life. I don’t like that.”

Cistaro said last week this is being referred to as KHS’ bill, but the nonprofit was requested by the council earlier this year during budget sessions to come back with a proposal to raise fees to offset the cost of the contract between KHS and the county.

Kapaa resident and self-described “nitpicker” Glenn Mickens backed up Cremer’s comments, saying it’s discrimination to raise fees for dogs while keeping other animals free of charge.

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