KAILUA-KONA — Seven Hawaii Police Officers waited 45 seconds before driving up to a residence in Hawaiian Homes to execute a search warrant for animal cruelty.
“Anything can happen when you’re out on a search warrant,” said Sgt. Edwin Buyten as he drove slowly up to the home Thursday afternoon.
After parking, authorities proceeded to the front door cautiously, knocked and identified themselves: “Police. We have a search warrant.”
“Anytime we present a search warrant we have to announce it,” Buyten said, supervisor of the Special Enforcement Unit.
No one answered the door. Officers walked in the house and came out minutes later indicating the home was clear. After that, a search of the property began.
Officers along with two Hawaii Island Humane Society officers walked about the vicinity. Eventually, Charyse Emmons, lead humane officer, walked out of the house with an emaciated female pit bull.
With assistance from Roxy O’Neal, shelter manager, Emmons loaded the skeletal dog into the back of the Humane Society truck.
Emmons said the Humane Society first received information from a good Samaritan about a starving dog last September. She has been actively working on the case since that time to December.
During that time frame, Emmons said, the Humane Society contacted the residents at the home and offered aid in the form of dog food, which was accepted. However, another complaint was recently received, which prompted the Humane Society to take further action.
“She’ll be taken to veterinary hospital to be assessed,” Emmons said of the dog Thursday.
Emmons said an animal in that condition could also be dehydrated, have loss of muscle and lose organ function.
“We just want make sure the body isn’t shutting down,” she said. “We’re just here to take care of the dog.”
Just as officers were preparing to clear the area, the homeowner pulled into the driveway. Police immediately identified themselves and gave her a copy of the warrant.
“We give them as much time to read it and understand it,” Buyten said.
Not long after, the woman’s husband arrived home. He too read the warrant and was taken into custody on suspicion of animal cruelty.
The Special Enforcement Unit was created specifically to address and assist in community issues that may take longer than normal to resolve. In this case, Buyten said, the Humane Society was having an ongoing issue with the property owner and their presence was requested when the warrant was served.
SEU has been functioning for approximately six months. The four-member team has closed cases from catching fugitives to financial investigations to assisting with drug investigations.
Maj. Robert Wagner created the team to address these bigger community problems. He recalled the first case being a rash of graffiti. The team has also picked up individuals who have been fugitives from the law for at least two years.
“They address the gaps to get the job done,” Wagner said of SEU. “They’re very efficient, they use resources very well.”