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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 29, 2010

Kauai man gets 30 days in jail for cruelty to animals

By Paul Curtis
The Garden Island

LIHUE — A state judge sentenced a 24-year-old Koloa man to 30 days in prison yesterday in two animal-cruelty cases after numerous dogs were found dead or dying on his property, apparently lacking sufficient food and water.

Fifth Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano also sentenced Blaine Jacintho to a year of probation, and ordered him to pay Kauai Humane Society $7,470 restitution for the care and treatment of nine dogs found emaciated and in unsanitary kennels and lacking food and water at his Koloa home.
“You crossed the line into the area of things you cannot do,” said Valenciano, pointing to Jacintho’s “illegal behavior,” actions and lack of actions, that led to several charges of animal cruelty.
Jacintho pleaded guilty to five counts of animal cruelty in November, with five other charges of animal cruelty dropped in exchange for his guilty plea, said county Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho.
“I’m very sorry for the condition my dogs was in. I lost all my dogs,” Jacintho said. “I feel really bad how they lived with me, in my kennels. I do take full responsibility. ... Those was my dogs, and I’m very sorry.”
Jason Shimizu, Jacintho’s attorney, asked Valenciano for a sentence without prison time, as incarceration would likely cause Jacintho to lose his full-time restaurant job and jeopardize timely restitution payments.
“He is not the bad person some people are making him out to be,” Shimizu said of his client, adding that Jacintho was “shocked” to see pictures of the living conditions of his dogs. “I know he’s remorseful. He truly loved his dogs” and he “wishes desperately” he would have kept his kennels cleaner, and fed and watered his dogs better, Shimizu said.
Shimizu said Jacintho, his girlfriend and family members all read online blogs blasting Jacintho for treatment of his dogs, and that made Jacintho realize the severity of his actions and inaction.
“He has more respect for animals now,” Shimizu said.
His inaction was reckless, but it was never Jacintho’s intent to mistreat his dogs, said Shimizu. Jacintho’s tough life situations made him pay less attention to his dogs, Shimizu said.
Shimizu said local publicity surrounding Jacintho’s case is a deterrent to mistreatment for other animal owners.
Iseri-Carvalho called the case “absolutely egregious,” that Jacintho’s dogs were left to rot and die, and that the initial Kauai Humane Society intervention should have put Jacintho on notice.
“This was, or should have been, a wake-up call.” But it wasn’t, Iseri-Carvalho said.
When Kauai Humane Society officers responded to an anonymous complaint about a foul odor coming from Jacintho’s back yard, they arrived to see a dead dog’s carcass, decaying and infested with maggots and flies, and several other emaciated animals, including puppies, with little or no food and water, said Iseri-Carvalho.
Watching the Kauai Humane Society videotape of Jacintho’s back yard was like watching a “horror movie,” she said.
Jacintho has been arrested eight times, the two most recent for family abuse and felony assault, both on Jacintho’s father, said Iseri-Carvalho.
The animal-cruelty charges were never contested, Jacintho had opportunities to properly take care of his dogs after the Kauai Humane Society intervention, but didn’t, continuing to contribute to the “pain and suffering of helpless dogs,” she said.
Valenciano said Jacintho’s care of his animals caused a community uproar, and if Jacintho was having financial difficulties there were other options available for care of his animals.
Valenciano ordered Jacintho taken into custody immediately at the close of the hearing.
Dr. Rebecca “Becky” Rhoades, a veterinarian and executive director of the Kauai Humane Society, said one of the dogs the society pulled from Jacintho’s home last year was a large brown pit bull that nearly killed a young visitor at Poipu Beach Park while Jacintho was out surfing and the dog roamed unleashed on the beach, entered the water and attacked a young child, nearly drowning the child by holding his head under water.
Jacintho in that 2008 case was cited under the county’s dangerous-dogs law, but because prosecutors would not fly the family back to the island to testify in the case, it was dismissed, said Rhoades, who was present in the courtroom for yesterday’s sentencing.
That brown pit bull could not be socialized enough to be offered up for adoption, so was “put down,” or killed, at the Kauai Humane Society, she said.
Two of the nine dogs taken from Jacintho’s home also had to be put down because they were unsociable and had never experienced human affection, said Rhoades, but six of the nine have been adopted into “loving homes.”
“They’ve got a second chance,” she said of the adopted dogs. “That’s what we do,” she said of taking the dogs from their “horrific conditions” with Jacintho, bringing them back to health, socializing them, and giving them a “chance for a real life.”