Pet Owners Seek Justice After Dogs Shot and Killed in West Oahu

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A family is seeking justice after their dogs were shot by a neighbor on their property.

“Probably the calmest, sweetest Australian Shepherds you’ve ever met,” said Tabitha Autele, the dogs’ owner.

Autele’s dogs, Bindi and Dutch, loved going to their owner’s ranch near Kunia every day.

“They saw the truck coming home from work and they knew they were going to the ranch,” Autele said. “They happily jumped into the truck. And it was their happy place. And that was our happy place. But since it happened, there is no more joy.

Autele and her husband, Elmer Acera, said earlier this month that their puppies chased a mongoose on the nearby property while Acera fed their horses.

“As I was going down I heard a gunshot and then a dog screaming,” Acera said. “And then a few seconds later I heard another gunshot and then another dog barking. And then I immediately thought, oh no, I hope it’s not them.

He said he ran to the neighboring property to find his dogs dead on the ground.

He said their neighbor told them their dogs were having fun with his horses, so he shot them.

“Did they attack and injure horses and cattle?” said Autele. “No, they were trained with horses again, their breed is not aggressive.”

According to criminal defense attorney Victor Bakke, people are allowed to defend themselves and their pets against other animals using reasonable force.

“They would be allowed to use force in a reasonable amount necessary to deal with the danger presented by the dogs,” Bakke said. “So they could hit them with a stick, they could kick them away. But pulling out a gun and shooting at the dogs, unless there was good reason to believe the dogs were likely to seriously injure or kill the horse, then that would be an abuse of force.

The family said the man who shot their dogs is on parole.

They said they were called a week later to give a statement to the Hawaii Paroling Authority.

Documents show the man was taken into custody the same day for violating his parole.

However, Autele and Acera hope he will be charged with killing their pets.

Bakke says the man could face felony for wrongfully shooting the dogs.

“I don’t want this stuff just pushed under a desk because they’re just dogs,” Acera said. “Because they’re not just dogs. They were our family.