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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, May 23, 2002

Four dogs in Maui cruelty case sent to Utah

By Christie Wilson
Neighbor Island Editor

Four dogs involved in a major animal cruelty case on Maui have found a new home on a 350-acre animal sanctuary in southern Utah.

Boomer, Girlie, Baby and Hank were among 81 dogs and 14 cats removed from a Ha'iku home Jan. 4. Another dog was found mauled to death inside the house.

All but seven of the animals were euthanized because of poor health or lack of space at the Maui animal shelter.

One of the cats and two of the dogs went to new homes, but the four remaining dogs were still waiting to be adopted when arrangements were made to send them to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the country's largest refuge for abused or abandoned pets and domesticated animals.

Through their acquaintance with Aimee Anderson, animal control supervisor at the Maui Humane Society, part-time Maui residents Les and Jeanette Harris of California agreed to pay the cost of shipping the animals to Utah. The Harrises run a sanctuary for 40 dogs on their property in California and are benefactors of the Utah organization, Anderson said.

The dogs left Maui on Tuesday on an American Airlines flight. Anderson said the airline agreed to discount the $2,000 shipping cost.

The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary tries to rehabilitate animals and find new homes for them, but if that is not possible for the four Maui dogs, they can look forward to living out their lives on the sprawling ranch, Anderson said.

She said it was bittersweet to send the animals away, since the Humane Society staff had become attached to them during the more than four months they lived at the shelter.

The dogs' former owners, Jean and Tim Bermudez, have been charged with 85 counts of animal cruelty in allegedly failing to give the animals adequate space and clean living conditions.