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Joseph dog bite saga goes to court

Special to Hawaii 24/7 by Wayne ‘Big Dog’ Joseph

Knowing that you are right and fighting for what is right sometimes requires patience and perseverance to see things through.

On April 14, 2011, a dog belonging to an irresponsible owner sunk its teeth into my leg. I needed to follow through with legal system to insure this would never happen again to anyone.

Wayne Joseph's ankle after his run-in with an unrestrained dog in April 2011. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Joseph)

On Tuesday, Dec. 20 in District Court the case came before Judge Harry Freitas as the defendant asked for a trial.

This was the third time owner of the vicious dog had been to court and he was advised of his rights and the seriousness of the consequences should he be found guilt.

At his last court hearing the owner had pleaded not guilty and asked for a trial.

His defense was going to be that I, running up Shower Drive in Hawaiian Paradise Park at 5 a.m. every morning, aggravated his dog, which had lead to the incident.

This is the same owner who had his dog loose on 10 previous occasions and told me if I didn’t like it “I should go run someplace else.”

Before his trial took place, and facing 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, he decided – under advice of counsel — to change his plea to “No Contest.”

After the no contest plea, Freitas found the irresponsible dog owner guilty and handed down a sentence.

The judge ordered the dog be licensed and chipped. He also ordered the owner pay a $200 fine, but since the owner is on Social Security disability the judge gave him a choice of paying the fine or doing 29 hours of community service.

The dog owner asked to do the 29 hours at the Keaau Humane Society and the judge thought that was a good idea.

Freitas also ordered the dog be confined to a kennel by Dec. 31 and in the meantime the dog is to be tied away from the street.

The dog owner was also ordered to report to the nearest police station where he was to be photographed and finger printed.

The owner was instructed to return to court at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 23 to prove he has followed the court orders.

I will also be present Feb. 23, as I’d like to ensure this person follows the courts instructions.

After eight months and several court appearances I feel we are finally going to have this resolved to my satisfaction.

Kudos to the Prosecutors Office and Irene Bender, who is with the Victim’s Assistance Program working out of the Prosecutors Office, and to the Police Department, which followed through with the case. Bender kept me informed along the entire way of the eight month process and even sat in the courtroom for that final court appearance.

The message of this story is to allow my readers to understand the system — from the police and Hawaii Island Humane Society, to the courts — is there to protect us from undo harm.

We all have the right to run, jog, and walk without being accosted by an unleashed dog.

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