Canine comeback

LIHUE — It has been nearly 10 months since seven emaciated dogs, including three young puppies, were seized by Kauai Humane Society officials from a Wailua Homesteads home.

“They were skinny and they were malnourished,” Kauai Humane Society Executive Director Penny Cistaro recalled. “The puppies weren’t too bad, but that’s part of why they were taken — they were a couple of bags of bones. Another dog died in one of the kennels, so one of the dogs was in a kennel with a dead dog. The conditions were just deplorable.”

Today, the condition of the dogs have improved dramatically, Cistaro said. In fact, four of the seven dogs, including the three now grown up puppies, are eligible for adoption at the Kauai Humane Society.

This particular case, Cistaro said, was an unusual one for the Puhi-based organization.

“What we get are the animals that are just neglected — they’re thin, they’re not getting the medical treatment that they need, they’re relegated to the backyard, they don’t have a lot of interaction with people, or they don’t get the quality of care that they need,” Cistaro said. “That’s what we get in — the animals that are just neglected — not this chain them in the backyard and let them starve.”

The 35-year-old owner of the dogs, Russell Soares, was arrested shortly after the dogs were seized and charged with five counts of second-degree animal cruelty. Soares later pleaded no contest to a single count of second-degree animal cruelty in July. He is scheduled to be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 28 in District Court.

As a part of his plea agreement, Soares must pay at least $1,000 in fines, serve at least seven days in jail and be placed on probation for one year.

Other terms of his plea agreement include forfeiting ownership of all the dogs that were surrendered to KHS; not caring for or owning any dogs during his one-year probation period; and attending animal behavioral and care training sessions, according to court documents.

Kauai Humane Society officials, Cistaro said, chose not to seek nearly $29,000 in restitution from Soares — the amount spent to care for his seven surrendered dogs — in exchange for surrendering ownership of the dogs.

“We wanted these dogs out of the kennel because they had been sitting in a kennel for 10 months,” Cistaro said. “They get out multiple times a day, they get interaction, but they still live in a kennel, so we wanted the opportunity to get them available for adoption and into a new home. The puppies grew up and some of their peak socialization and development stages were spent in a kennel instead of a home environment, and that has been the most challenging thing for us.”

Though four of the seven hound mix dogs — two males and two females — are eligible for adoption, the remaining three adult dogs are still in limbo.

“There are questions on a couple of them as far as how well they do with other dogs, so we’re putting through some evaluations with other dogs,” Cistaro said.

The main goal now, she said, is finding safe homes for the adoptable dogs.

“The dogs are incredibly resilient,” Cistaro said.

Info: 632-0610.

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Darin Moriki, county government reporter, can be reached at 245-0428 or dmoriki@thegardenisland.com.

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