S.B. NO.














relating to dog bites.





SECTION 1. The legislature finds that dog bites are among the top reasons for emergency room visits, ranking higher than injuries occurring on motorcycles, to pedestrians, and from gunshots. According to a 2018 study, an average of over 4.6 million people in the United States each year are admitted into the emergency department as a result of a dog bite. Many dog bite victims are children.

The legislature further finds that the current State law only allows a dog bite victim standing in district court if it can be proven to the court that the dog has bitten and injured on a prior separate occasion. However, the legislature notes there is no systematic tracking system for dog bites in Hawaii and many of the incidences go unreported.

Therefore, the purpose of this Act is to allow a person who has been bitten by a dog to bring legal action against the dog's owner without having to prove that the dog has bitten on two separate occasions.

SECTION 2. Section 142-75, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"142-75 Human bitten by dog; duty of dog owners; action against owner. (a) The owner of any dog that has bitten a human being shall have the duty to take such reasonable steps as are necessary to prevent the recurrence of such incident.

(b) Whenever a dog has bitten a human being [on at least two separate occasions] under circumstances for which none of the exceptions specified in section 663-9.1 apply, any person may bring an action against the owner of the dog in the district court of the judicial circuit in which the owner resides, to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bite or bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by [such] the animal. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including but not limited to the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction by its owner. In making its decision, the court may consider:

(1) The vicious or dangerous propensities of the animal;

(2) The ability of the owner to adequately confine or remove the animal; and

(3) The necessity of any destruction of an animal in light of the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

This section shall not preclude any existing common law remedies.

(c) Each county may enact and enforce ordinances regulating persons who own, harbor, or keep any dog that has bitten, injured, or maimed a person. No ordinance enacted under this subsection shall be held invalid on the ground that it covers any subject or matter embraced within any statute or rule of the State; provided that the ordinance shall not affect the civil liability of a person owning, harboring, or keeping the dog. Upon enactment of an ordinance, whether enacted on, before, or after June 30, 2001, the ordinance shall have full force and effect; provided that the ordinance is consistent with this section."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.








Report Title:

Dog Bites; Duty of Dog Owners; Action Against Owner



Removes the requirement to prove that the dog has bitten on two separate occasions for dog bite victims to bring legal action against a dog's owner.




The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.