Don’t forget the poop bag

ANINI — Taliah, a hound-mix that’s fond of people and great with kids, was wandering around on the grass near a picnic spot Thursday morning, dragging a six-foot leash and mingling with her people.

“She’s a gentle dog and people really just love having her around,” said Stacey Stewart, south side resident who was at Anini Beach with a few friends for the day. “I wouldn’t bring her to a place like this, with this many people, if she wasn’t.”

Stewart said she thinks it’s important to be a responsible dog owner, not just for herself and her little clan, but for the entire island.

“It’s about living together and each person taking responsibility of every aspect of their animal,” Stewart said. “That’s how we protect our ‘aina and keep it beautiful.”

She said she occasionally sees dog owners who don’t clean up after their dogs when she’s out with Taliah, and she approaches them to let them know how important it is to take responsibility.

“I think that it comes across better from a dog owner than if you were to approach someone without an animal with you and tell them to pick up after their dog,” Stewart said.

She has stockpiles of plastic bags in her car for picking up after Taliah, and she said she suggests the practice to all dog owners because it’s not always guaranteed there will be poop bags available.

“It’d be great if they put out more spots with bags, even in places where dogs aren’t allowed because they’re great for picking up beach trash or shells,” Stewart said. “Plus it’s helpful because not everyone remembers to bring bags with them when they go out.”

Penny Cistaro, executive director of the Kauai Humane Society, said it’s definitely a health hazard when people don’t pick up after their pets.

“Many diseases are transmitted through the feces and the urine and if you don’t pick up after your dog, you could be spreading things like worms,” Cistaro said. “For people with small puppies, we don’t recommend taking them out in crowded areas too much until they are vaccinated, for that reason.”

Remember the laws

Hawaii state law requires that all dogs must be leashed on beaches and in public parks. The only exception is seeing eye dogs, which utilize a harness.

According to the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, the greatest number of complaints reported are related to dogs running loose on the beach, barking dogs, and owners not cleaning up after their dogs.

It’s a petty misdemeanor offense for pet-related violations and first offense fines start at $100.

They can climb to $500 for third and subsequent offenses.

Kauai County also has a leash law, requiring dogs to be on a leash any time the owner is on county property. The leash must be no more than eight feet long.

Exceptions to the country rule are seeing eye dogs, animals used in hunting or obedience training, tracking dogs, and dogs used in shows — as long as they are accompanied by their owner.

According to county law, owners can be fined from $50 to $200 if dogs are found running loose or if there isn’t an owner present to control the animal. That’s when they’re considered a stray.

“Having a dog is another responsibility and it’s important to take care of all aspects of that dog,” Stewart said.

Cistaro said, as a dog owner herself, picking up after her dog is something she has worked into her daily schedule.

“I know where all the trash cans are around my house, so when I take my dog out with me on runs, I know how far I have to go to throw away the bag,” Cistaro said. “I live in a neighborhood and when he goes, it goes onto someone’s lawn. It’s respectful to pick that up.”

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