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Thursday, Dec 7, 2006County: Kauai
Case Images: 2 files available
Defendant/Suspect: Steve A. Cummings
Case Updates: 6 update(s) available
Kaua'i Humane Society officials on Dec 7 cited an Anahola man with 20 counts of animal cruelty after finding 17 starved dogs and three dead ones in cages and on chains at an Anahola property.
"The dogs are severely emaciated, dehydrated and weak. They wouldn't have lived more than a couple of more days if we hadn't been alerted by the concerned citizen," said society director Becky Rhoades, a veterinarian. She said Steve A. Cummings, 47, was cited for 20 counts of cruelty to animals and 20 counts of animal desertion. He is to be arraigned Jan. 9 in District Court.
The animals were restrained on a property that had a house that appeared to be abandoned, Rhoades said. She said she and her staff found no evidence the animals had received food or water recently. Two dogs were dead in wire cages and another was dead at the end of a chain. The others also were tethered or chained. Most of the animals are Airedale mixes, with a few hound and pit bull mixes, and they range from about 4 months to 5 years old, she said.
The animals, several of which have identifying computer chips implanted, were taken to the humane society shelter for care. Shelter staff worked with them through the night, and the animals appear to be improving, she said.
"The dogs are not available for adoption at this time. We will be pursuing forfeiture of the dogs to the society so that we can find them new homes soon," Rhoades said.
"Please, if you can't care for your animal, call us. There is no reason for animals to ever suffer like this."
|A Kauai resident whose Anahola property was described as a "canine Auschwitz" by prosecutors received a six-month jail term for animal cruelty yesterday.|
Kauai resident Steve Cummings pleaded guilty in May to 20 counts of animal cruelty for leaving his 20 hunting dogs without food or water in December. Three died, and the other 17 had to be nursed back to health by Kauai Humane Society officials.
But Cummings, 48, said yesterday that he loved his dogs, was "truly sorry for what happened" and that the deaths were a tragic mistake.
Cummings had planned a trip to Las Vegas and asked a relative to look after the dogs while he was gone, his lawyer, Brandon Flores, said yesterday. His return was postponed, but Cummings figured the relative would continue to feed the dogs. He or she did not.
The canines -- pit bull, Airedale and hound mixes -- were left without food and water for 16 days, Flores added.
County Deputy Prosecutor Stewart Merdian, however, painted a different picture of events and Cummings' culpability.
The decomposition of one dog left in a cage likely took months, judging by the skeleton, he said.
And, if not for a call from a neighbor, all the dogs would have been dead within another week.
Three of the dogs were so emaciated they would have died within 24 hours, Humane Society officials told prosecutors.
"There was a death camp on Kauai," Merdian said. "This was a canine Auschwitz."
Auschwitz was a concentration camp run by Nazi Germany in Poland during World War II.
No relative has ever come forward to corroborate Cummings' story, Merdian added.
Flores, however, countered that the decomposition of the dog could have taken place within a few weeks. Also, Cummings refused to identify the person who didn't feed his dogs to keep the person from being vilified in the media, since he "was tired of being treated poorly in the press" himself, his lawyer said.
District Judge Trudy Senda imposed the six-month jail sentence because, she said, of the severity of the offenses and Cummings' apparent lack of concern for the dogs.
Senda, relying on Humane Society reports, said Cummings was notified Dec. 6 that his dogs had been found near death or dead. Cummings didn't see his dogs until the next day at the Humane Society.
Cummings is "not a killer," Flores said. He cares for his dogs, he wanted them back and he was willing to pay for their care, even after he was arrested and the dogs were removed, he added.
He also agreed to pay the Humane Society $12,150 for nursing the dogs back to health.
|Source: Star-Bulletin - Aug 8, 2007|
Update posted on Aug 8, 2007 - 9:12AM
|A Kauai man is to be sentenced in August on 20 counts of animal cruelty. |
Steve Cummings of Anahola pleaded no contest to the charges in District Court. In return, prosecutors dropped 20 other counts of animal desertion.
In December, the Kauai Humane Society discovered three of Cummings' dogs dead and an additional 17 suffering from dehydration and starvation.
At the time, the society's executive director, Becky Rhoades called it "a nightmare''. She described the surviving dogs as "walking skeletons''.
Defense attorney Brandon Flores says the dogs were left without food and water because of miscommunication. He says Cummings had asked a friend to take care of the animals.
|Source: KHNL News - May 31, 2007|
Update posted on Jun 2, 2007 - 6:06PM
|On Kauai, a trial date has been set for an Anahola man accused of abandoning his dogs without food or water. 47-year old Steve Cummings will stand trial May 30th after pleading "not guilty." This comes after Humane Society officials found three dead dogs, and 17 others dehydrated and starving on his property in December.|
Cummings is being charged with animal desertation and animal cruelty. The dogs have been turned over to a friend of Cummings' until the trial is decided.
|Source: KGMB - March 21, 2007|
Update posted on Mar 22, 2007 - 1:06AM
|The man charged with 40 counts of animal abuse entered a not guilty plea yesterday in district court. Steve A. Cummings, 47, of Anahola, is charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty and 20 counts of animal desertion.|
The Kaua'i Humane Society found 20 abused dogs at Cummings' home at 4590 Pu'uhale Loop on Dec. 6.
Three of the dogs were dead, one still attached to its leash.
The remaining 17 emaciated dogs were taken into protective care and have been nursed back to health by Kaua'i Humane Society staff. Several of the rescued dogs have since gained more than half their body weight, Dr. Becky Rhoades, executive director of the humane society, said.
About a half-dozen animal rights advocates were present at Cummings' hearing, but none wanted to speak on the record for fear of retaliation by other residents on the island.
Such retaliation could include having pets poisoned, one animal resident said.
Each of the 20 animal cruelty counts Cummings faces is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine, District Court Judge Trudy Senda said.
Each count of animal desertion carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Cummings' case has garnered national attention from such animal rights groups as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has publicly decried his alleged crime.
"Cummings appears to be either unable or unwilling to provide the most basic care to animals," Dan Paden, a PETA researcher, said. "Dementia and other mental health disorders may be at play in (animal) hoarding cases."
Hawai'i is one of eight states that doesn't have felony penalties for animal cruelty.
Cummings's next appearance in district court is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. March 20.
Rhoades will appear in court at 8:30 a.m. this morning for a forfeiture and bonding hearing to make suggestions regarding the custody of the dogs.
|Source: Kauai Garden Island News - Jan 31, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 31, 2007 - 12:39PM
|The case cited by one official as "the worst animal cruelty she has ever seen," was continued yesterday to 2 p.m. Jan. 30 in district court.|
The Kaua'i Humane Society was called out to 4590 Pu'uhale Loop on Dec. 6 only to find 20 abused dogs - three of which were found dead - outside an Anahola home.
Two of the dead dogs were in their kennels, while the other one that died was still attached to its leash.
Steve A. Cummings, the 47-year-old resident of the Anahola home, is charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty and 20 counts of animal desertion.
Cummings' case was continued because his attorney had a conflict with another case.
Dr. Becky Rhoades, Kauai Humane Society executive director, said the 17 dogs that survived are on the mend.
"Most of them have gained more than 50 percent of their body weight," she said.
While the rescued dogs showed signs of vitality, health and eagerness, they are hunting dogs that "do need to learn a little bit of manners," Rhoades said.
If and when the dogs will be put up for adoption is to be determined by the length and findings of the case.
Each of the 20 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty Cummings faces is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.
Each count of animal desertion carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Hawai'i is one of eight states that doesn't have felony penalties for animal cruelty.
|Source: Kauai Garden Island News - Jan 10, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 11, 2007 - 2:03AM
|Steve Cummings, 47, is due to appear in court next on January 30, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. Cummings faces 20 counts of animal cruelty and 20 counts of animal desertion for the abandonment and starvation of 20 dogs, 3 of which were found dead.|
|Source: Case # 5P106-1889 and 5P106-1890|
Update posted on Jan 10, 2007 - 5:15PM
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