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Dog attack victim remains in ICU

According to police, a 32-year-old Puna woman was mauled by a neighbor’s dog Saturday and remained in the intensive care unit Tuesday at Hilo Medical Center with serious injuries.

A GoFundMe page for the victim, Amber Clausen, had raised $3,575 of a $50,000 goal. The page is titled “Help Amber Recover from a Brutal Dog Attack.”

The attack left Clausen with both arms broken and multiple puncture wounds and lacerations, police said. Clausen’s 52-year-old mother suffered less serious injuries than her daughter, police said.

The fundraising page describes Clausen as “a dedicated animal caretaker who selflessly dedicates her time and energy to animals in need.” She said Clausen has been a volunteer with the Hawaii Animal Kuleana Alliance since 2018.

The dog’s owner, Frederick Kassebeer, 52, was charged with negligent failure to control a dangerous dog, a Class C felony carrying a possible five-year prison term and a fine of up to $10,000, and allowing a dog strays , an infraction that only carries a fine.

Kassebeer, who was released from police custody after posting $2,000 bail, has court dates of June 26 for the stray dog ​​violation and June 29 for failure to control a dangerous dog charge, according to the record. police.

Police Capt. Scott Amaral, commander of the Puna Patrol, described the incident Tuesday as “a series of unfortunate circumstances.”

According to court records, there have been no prior arrests of Kassebeer and no citations issued for animal-related crimes.

Police say Kassebeer’s property on Bamboo Drive has a partially fenced yard and the dog was not secured when the attack occurred.

Police said a neighbor intervened and was able to remove Clausen’s dog and secure it to a fence post.

“The Good Samaritan helped immensely,” Amaral said.

The neighbor put Clausen in the bed of his van and took her to the Pahoa fire station, where medics took over and took the woman by ambulance to HMC.

The dog was detained by Animal Control officers, police said. Some unofficial online posters said the dog had been euthanized, but Amaral said due process procedures must be followed before that happens.

Amaral said no one was at Kassebeer’s residence on Saturday when the incident occurred.

“He ended up coming the next day. And when he came to see us, that’s when we arrested him,” Amaral said.

The dangerous dog charge Kassebeer faces came about because of Bill 125, introduced by Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz and passed in April 2022.

“I know this is the first time we have arrested someone because of this change to the Hawaii County Code that went into effect last year. The severity was such that we felt the need to do it,” said Amaral.

The county law arose because of 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 serious injuries, died at Hilo Medical Center on September 5, 2021, 24 days after the attack.

“I actually went to testify about this after Ms. Oskins’ death two years ago,” Amaral said. “And Ashley Kierkiewicz brought this up… because everyone was upset at the time. Everyone was up in arms because this lady passed away due to a dog attack, and why aren’t the (dog’s) owners in jail?

“It was not a felony at the time.”

“This just underscores the problem that these animal attacks are happening in the Puna region,” Kierkiewicz added. “Until that point, there were no criminal penalties, and the other issue we were trying to address was the confiscation of the animal at the time. Until that point, the dog could essentially come home, and the people who were attacked and survived, it was a very traumatic experience for them to have to come home, knowing that this… dangerous animal was next door, in the vicinity where it could potentially strike again.”

Kierkiewicz indicated the possibility that dog attacks go unreported.

“This is what I always tell my constituents: If you don’t report it, there’s nothing the police and prosecutors can do about the situation,” he said. “You know, often people say, ‘The police and prosecutors haven’t done anything.’ Well, have you done the first step, which is reporting? Because they can’t move forward or do any investigation or hold anyone accountable unless a report has been filed.”

Email John Burnett at [email protected].

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