Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 |
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Facebook photo Amber Clausen, seen here in an undated photo with a canine friend, required hospitalization after a May 27 attack on her Ainaloa Estates property. (Courtesy photo/ Amber Clausen)
Charges have been dropped against an Ainaloa Estates couple whose dog attacked and seriously injured a neighbor in May.
According to court records, Hilo Circuit Judge Peter Kubota last week dismissed charges against Frederick Kassebeer and his wife, Kazzy Kassebeer, who were accused of negligent failure to control a dangerous dog and allowing a dog to stray.
The dismissal, which is the result of individual motions by prosecutors, is with prejudice, which means the state cannot refile the charges.
Stanton Oshiro, Kazzy Kassebeer’s attorney, told the judge the couple had undergone mediation with the victim in the case, Amber Clausen. Oshiro’s account was confirmed by Deputy Prosecutor Haaheo Kahoohalahala, who said the motions were filed after the couple completed the restorative justice process.
Terms of the mediation agreement aren’t public.
According to police, the 33-year-old Clausen and her dog were on her property on Bamboo Drive on May 27 when the Kassebeers’ dog, Zen, attacked her late that afternoon.
Clausen — who describes herself on her Facebook page as a “dog owner and lover” — suffered bite wounds resulting in fractures to both arms, multiple puncture wounds, and lacerations. She was hospitalized at Hilo Medical Center for treatment of her injuries.
Following the incident, a bystander successfully secured the dog to a post, enabling the county Animal Control officers to take custody of the animal.
Police say the dog wasn’t secured and was able to get beyond the Kassebeers’ property. There were no previous reports or incidents involving the dog being loose in the area where the attack occurred.
The charge of negligent failure to control a dangerous dog is a Class C felony that carries a potential five-year prison term and up to a $10,000 fine, and permitting a dog to stray is a violation which carries only a fine.
The Kassebeers were the first to be prosecuted under a county law that made failing to restrain a dangerous dog a felony. The law is the result of Bill 125, which was introduced by Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz and passed in April 2022.
Kierkiewicz introduced the legislation following an incident in August 2021, when 85-year-old Hawaiian Paradise Park resident Dolores Oskins was mauled by three unrestrained dogs belonging to a neighbor.
Oskins, who suffered critical injuries, died at Hilo Medical Center on Sept. 5, 2021, 24 days after the attack.
Meanwhile, prosecutors received from police on Oct. 30 the results of their investigation into the death of 71-year-old Bob Northrop, whom police say was fatally mauled by four dogs on Outrigger Drive in Ocean View.
Northrop’s daughter, Shannon Matson, told the Tribune-Herald in early September that her father was walking to a friend’s house, hoping for a ride to Kailua-Kona, when the deadly attack occurred.
Police say the dogs’ owners relinquished all four animals plus a litter of 10 puppies to county Animal Control agents after the attack.
Charges haven’t yet been filed in the case, and the dogs’ owners haven’t been publicly identified by authorities.
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