Animal Welfare Laws

Local, state and federal laws all protect animals and people in our community. Enforcement of these laws is determined by jurisdiction and may involve the Hawaiian Humane Society, the Honolulu Police Department or other agencies.

New Laws in 2021

Hawaiian Humane and its fellow animal welfare advocates were instrumental in the adoption of three new laws in 2021 that protect the animals we love. These laws are outlined below.

ACT 31 – Establishes the crime of sexual assault of an animal. Standard veterinary, animal husbandry and conformation judging practices are exempt. State law, took effect June 7, 2021.

ACT 91 – Protects veterinarians from civil liability for rendering emergency aid to an animal, even if an owner is not available to consent to care. Requires veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty or the injury or death of an animal as part of a staged fight. Protects veterinarians from civil liability for making such reports. State law, took effect June 25, 2021.

ACT 182 – Buzz’s Law bans the unsupervised tethering of a dog under the age of six months. Bans tethering in a configuration that endangers the dog. Bans the use of tow or log chains to tether a dog. State law, took effect July 6, 2021.

County Laws

Chapter 7, Animals and Fowl, of the Revised Ordinance of Honolulu includes most of Oʻahu’s animal regulations including:

  • Mandatory identification for pet dogs and cats
  • Leash law for dogs (Article 4)
  • Dangerous dogs (Article 7) 
  • Cockfighting prohibited (Article 1) 
  • Mandatory reporting of found cats to animal control (Article 6)
  • Mandatory sterilization for pet cats allowed outdoors (Article 6)
  • Noise nuisance law; dogs and roosters (Article 2)
  • Limits on number of dogs and chickens (Article 2)

Chapter 10, Article 1 includes the rules on dogs in City & County parks

Chapter 15, Article 24 includes the rules on carrying animals in a vehicle

Chapter 29, Articles 1 and 4 include the rules on removing animal waste

State Laws

Chapter 711 of Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, Offenses Against Public Order, includes Hawaiʻi criminal animal cruelty provisions:

Other important state laws include:

Federal Laws