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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 28, 2009

No cruelty charges for shelter

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Norman Pang

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The Honolulu prosecutor's office has decided not to pursue a case against the surviving owner of a Leeward Coast animal shelter where more than 400 dogs, cats and birds were housed.

Norman Pang of Nanakuli had not been cited, arrested or charged for alleged cruelty to animals, but the Hawaiian Humane Society sought prosecution.

Pang, whose wife operated Animal Haven on the couple's property, died in July.

Pamela Burns, Hawaiian Humane Society chief executive officer, said she respected the prosecutor's office decision not to pursue the case against Animal Haven. The Humane Society forwarded all of its information to the prosecutor's office for determination, Burns said.

"Although we received numerous complaints, we were prohibited access to the property to conduct an animal cruelty investigation," Burns said in a prepared statement. "As a result our case was severely compromised. We stand by our decision to forward this case to the prosecutor's office for their determination about the strength and quality of the evidence to pursue a conviction."

In July, animal welfare agencies took control of the animals at the no-kill shelter that had been run by Pang's wife, Bonnie.

After her death, Norman Pang signed a surrender statement giving the O'ahu Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ownership of the animals in the sanctuary. The O'ahu SPCA requested help from the Humane Society of the United States. It took five days for welfare agencies to orchestrate what's been described as O'ahu's largest animal rescue operation.

Jim Fulton, spokesman for the prosecutor's office, said it came down to a question of whether prosecutors could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

"Our standard is proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt," Fulton said. "We didn't treat this case any differently than any other case. It was a complete investigation."

The Pangs had a running dispute with the Hawaiian Humane Society that spanned more than two decades. In 1995, the Humane Society took Bonnie Pang to court on charges of cruelty to animals, although a judge dismissed the case.

Earlier this month, Norman Pang filed a lawsuit against several local and national animal welfare organizations, including the Hawaiian Humane Society. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, claims the organizations and their representatives have defamed him and that he has been deprived of his rights. He also is suing to force the animal organizations to remove all photographs and video of Animal Haven from their Internet sites.

Photographs and video taken when the animals were removed in July have shown up on the Web site of the Humane Society of the United States, describing the shelter as a "hoarding situation."

Pang feels vindicated by the prosecutor's decision not to pursue criminal charges, said his attorney, Michael Ostendorp.

"He feels the Hawaiian Humane Society is out of control," Ostendorp said. "He said the Humane Society was trying to prosecute on fabricated claims."