Posted on: Friday, May 9, 2003
Fanciers say woman deceived them about dogs
By Zenaida Serrano Espanol
Advertiser Staff Writer
|The dogs rescued from a Villa Marina condo yesterday have shed light on illicit dog breeding.
Bruce Asato The Honolulu Advertiser
Since then, Washington's constant calls and e-mails to try to get the papers have gone unreturned. "I'm really outraged because I spent a lot of money ... and I'm waiting for the papers," Washington said.
Joyce Adkins of Waikiki paid $750 for a mixed Chihuahua and Brussels Griffon puppy on April 2, and said she was told the dog received its immunization shots from a Kalihi veterinary clinic. But yesterday, Adkins found out otherwise.
A day after 27 dogs and two cats were confiscated from a Hawai'i Kai condo suspected of being the location for a "puppy mill," people who say they did business with condo resident Lucy Kagan are stepping forward to share their experiences, a number of them flooding the Hawaiian Humane Society with complaints.
"I think that she should be stopped," Washington said.
The Humane Society opened an animal cruelty investigation Wednesday after confiscating the animals, which were discovered when firefighters responded to a small kitchen fire at the three-bedroom unit on Kawaihae Place.
The state Department of Health issued Kagan a citation a year and a half ago for accumulation of animal waste at the condo, and also made six visits there regarding odor and rats coming from the unit.
Officials from the department's vector control branch visited the condo between Nov. 14, 2001, and April 22, 2002, said Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the health department.
The department conducted three investigations, and cited Kagan once on Dec. 5, 2001. Kagan addressed the problems after each complaint, Okubo said.
Adkins said after hearing about Kagan's situation on the news Wednesday, she decided to contact the Kalihi clinic to verify her puppy received its shots. "They said that they never saw this dog," Adkins said.
Adkins said she's upset because she has to pay for shots she thought her dog had already received. "There was misrepresentation there," Adkins said.
Court documents show that Kagan, 50, was born in Germany and has lived in Hawai'i for 23 years. Kagan did not return calls to The Advertiser yesterday.
Robin Black used to rent the unit next door to Kagan. He said yesterday that he reported the stench to the Humane Society and to state vector control officials.
"The first night I was there, we had to close all the windows; the smell was so bad," Black said yesterday.
The resident cleaned up the home after being cited, but it was not long before the problem returned, he said.
After a year of the smell, Black said, he "threw in the towel" and moved to Kailua.
Bryan Windisch, manager of field services for the Humane Society, said yesterday that animal cruelty complaints in the case stem from "horrendous" living conditions at the condo, where there was "an enormous amount of feces, urine" throughout the property.
"There is sufficient evidence on our end that show that the animals have been treated poorly and unfairly and we're going to do everything that we can as investigators to make sure that whoever is responsible for this is cited," Windisch said.
Windisch said five Humane Society investigators are working on the case. "If we charge (Kagan) with cruelty, then we would not be giving her animals back," he said. "They would be evidence in the case."
Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor with possible penalties of up to a $2,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail.
Kagan said Wednesday the dogs were well-fed, in good health and were well-cared for.
She said things got out of control when she had to rush to a Neighbor Island to care for a relative who was having surgery. She said her roommate agreed to care for the animals while she was gone for about a week, but that he apparently neglected his duties.
Maui resident Kelly Sampels said yesterday that she worked with Kagan last December to breed her toy poodle at the Hawai'i Kai home. Sampels said Kagan had tried to sell the puppies for the past three weeks.
Sampels saw her portable kennels on TV and a photograph of one of her puppies in The Advertiser.
Sampels said she never visited the home but instead met the woman at the airport.
"Stupid me, eh?" she said. "I'm freaking out but I'm also, shame, shame, shame on me for not checking out the environment."
Both Adkins and Washington said they came in contact with Kagan through classified ads Kagan had placed in the newspaper.
Kagan was placing classifieds in The Advertiser under the rate paid by private parties, which is about one-fifth of what commercial pet merchants would pay, according to Advertiser account executives.
Glenn Zuehls, a classified advertising manager at The Advertiser, said sales logs showed that Kagan had placed 63 ads so far this year and 338 ads since the beginning of 2001. He added that two weeks ago the company reclassified her as a business account, a decision Kagan was protesting.
"Because of the volume of her ads, it alerted us that this was not a person selling a dog here or there," Zuehls said. "It's more of a business."
The Humane Society was continuing to care for the confiscated animals, and most of the dogs "seem to be in reasonable condition," said Humane Society spokeswoman Eve Holt.
But two of the dogs had to be sent to a private veterinary clinic Wednesday for further examination; one puppy for dehydration and another dog for a possible pregnancy or tumor, Holt said.
"Many people have called to offer to adopt," said Linda Haller, director of shelter operations. ... "However, the Humane Society does not have ownership of the puppies so we cannot make them available for adoption at this time."
Windisch said the length of time the Humane Society will house the animals will be determined by the investigation.
Meanwhile, a check of court records showed that Kagan sued other people and was sued several different times between 1990 and 2002.
The most recent case involves a criminal charge brought against Kagan earlier this year. She was indicted by an O'ahu grand jury on April 8 and charged with second-degree theft.
The indictment alleges that Kagan stole more than $300 worth of property from Kaimuki Dry Goods during the period of Jan. 26 and Feb. 26, 2002.
Kagan posted $1,000 cash bail in that case. She was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the charge last Monday. Her trial in that case is set for the week of July 7, court records show.
Advertiser staff writers Mike Gordon, Curtis Lum, Vicki Viotti and David Waite contributed to this report.