Dog

Family calls for tougher laws following dog attack that left girl seriously injured

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The family of a young Puna girl who was rushed to Oahu after being attacked by a neighbor’s dogs is calling for tougher penalties to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Shalaye Newman says her 6-year-old daughter’s injuries were so bad she was flown to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children following the attack over a week ago.

Little Violet Beatte is now recovering at home.

“They told me if the bite had been a millimeter higher, she would have lost her eye,” said Newman. “And if the bite had been an inch lower on her neck, she would have lost her life.”

Newman said Violet was walking home from the bus stop in Mountain View on Nov. 4 with her big sisters, 11-year-old Layla and 15-year-old Faith when she was attacked by two of their neighbor’s pit bulls.

“Two really vicious, barking, snarling pit bulls, but they’re always behind a fence,” said Newman. “And they walked past it and the gate wasn’t closed.”

“And suddenly, Layla heard Violet scream and she turned and one of the pit bulls had grabbed her on the thigh and dragged her to the ground and the other one was biting her face.”

The incident comes just three months after 85-year-old Dolores Oskin was also attacked by dogs in Puna. She died from her injuries.

“No anyone should have to see their loved one go through what my little girl went through,” said Newman.

In the attack earlier this month, Newman said Layla saved her little sister’s life.

“They were like on her and so she was like trying to push herself up,” said Layla. “So, I put my arms like under her arms and pulled her back.”

“I was just worried about her.”

“She saved her life,” said Newman. “And more than anything, I’m just grateful.”

Hawaii County Police say the owner surrendered the dogs to animal control. The dogs were then euthanized.

Police have classified it as a dangerous dog case, but say the law is still lenient.

“As far as a dangerous dog, there’s a little bit more requirements as far as the law and those fines are a little bit more. But still, it’s very small,” said Hawaii Police Major Aimee Wana, who currently oversees animal control. “In comparison to say a cruelty in the first-degree is a felony case.”

Attorney Jacob Lowenthal who is representing Newman and her family, said there are also needs to be “more uniformity amongst the states because all the counties have different types of laws about what a dog owner can and can’t do with their animal.”

Hawaii County Councilmember Ashley Kiekiewicz says her office is working closely with the police, prosecutors, and city lawyers to strengthen Hawaii County Code as it relates to attacks by dangerous dogs.

She said in a statement:

“Right now, our code prescribes a petty misdemeanor for dog owners who fail to implement reasonable measures to prevent attacks. We’re exploring enhanced penalties for a variety of situations including if there is a prior attack and issues weren’t resolved, and where serious and substantial bodily injuries – or death – occur.”

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.