Judge dismisses accusation against woman who caught neighbor’s cat | News, Sports, Jobs

To say that an animal abandonment law was “too wide”, A judge Tuesday dismissed charges against a Waiehu woman who caught a neighbor’s cat that was then taken to Keopuolani Park in Kahului.

Eleven days later, the cat named Mr. Pickles was found injured after being hit by a car and was euthanized, according to information in the Second Circuit Court case against Gretchen. “Gigi” Voxland, 61.

Asking the court to dismiss the misdemeanor charge of criminal conspiracy to commit animal abandonment, Kauai attorney Cassandra Stamm said the animal abandonment statute is “too broad and violates due process clauses” of the state and US constitutions.

The law makes it illegal for anyone to take a cat and leave it anywhere without intending to return the animal and infringes on the right of owners to remove pets from their property, Stamm said in a motion filed with the court.

“The state cannot constitutionally deprive owners of their right to remove any cat from their property under any circumstances,” said his move. “The police power of the state cannot be extended so widely. The statute is too broad, null and void as applied to Ms. Voxland in this case.”

Deputy District Attorney Brant Yoshimoto opposed the request to dismiss the charge, which alleged that Voxland committed animal desertion and recklessly caused the cat’s death.

“The statute does not criminalize the right of owners to remove animals from their property,” Yoshimoto said in court on Tuesday. “It’s criminalizing the way property owners take animals off their property.”

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Voxland first caught Pickles on March 11 at his home on Makaala Drive and took him to the Maui Humane Society, according to information in the case. He didn’t have an appointment and was told to wait, but he left before the process was complete, leaving behind his trap and identification.

Mr. Pickles was returned to his owner before Voxland caught the cat again at their home on March 19 and her husband took it to Keopuolani Park and left it near the park’s restrooms, according to the information.

On March 30, someone found an injured cat on Lunalilo Street in Wailuku and brought it to the Central Maui Animal Clinic. Through his microchip, he was identified as Mr. Pickles and his owner was notified. Due to his injuries, the veterinary staff decided it would be best to put him down.

Voxland has an automatic feeder outside his home for his outdoor cats and has seen Mr. Pickles eating food from the automatic feeder on his property, according to case information.

In a social media post the day Mr. Pickles was caught, his owner feared “They may have left it.”

“He is very special to us and we just want him home.” the post said.

Mr. Pickles, also known as Sumo, was described as weighing 20 pounds. “Pickles also has an injured left eye that we are currently treating, it hurts and makes him squint,” the post said.

In a memorandum filed with the court, Yoshimoto said the abandonment statutes only apply to companion animals and equines.

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“Companion animals include domestic animals”, he said. “These animals depend on humans for shelter and food. They are bred for human company.

“Companion animals are not wild animals either. They were bred for human company and depend on humans for their care and compassion. It is noted in the legislative history of the statute in question that abandoned pets can become victims of starvation, disease, injury, death or cruelty. Domestic animals were not born and taught the tools to survive on their own.”

He said companion animals are not pests that need to be eradicated from someone’s property.

“Hawaii Revised Statutes have laws against cruelty to animals, including the statute in question, which recognizes that all animals should not be subjected to cruel treatment.” he said. “The statute in question is specific as to the animals it protects and the conduct it prohibits. It is not unconstitutionally too broad.”

Granting the defense’s request to dismiss the charge Tuesday, Judge Kelsey Kawano said the animal desertion statute “It’s too wide.”

“Interferes with a person’s constitutional right to use and enjoy his property,” he said.

An animal abandonment charge that had been brought against Voxland’s husband, John Voxland, was dismissed on May 11 for further investigation, court records show.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at [email protected]

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