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‘An especially cruel twist of fate’: Daughter of fatal dog attack victim called father ‘an animal lov… – Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Sunday, April 14, 2024| Today’s Paper | light rain 76.649°

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BOB NORTHROP (Facebook photo)
A 71-year-old man killed in an attack by four dogs Tuesday morning in Ocean View was an animal lover, according to his daughter.
A 71-year-old man killed in an attack by four dogs Tuesday morning in Ocean View was an animal lover, according to his daughter.
Shannon Matson, daughter of Bob Northrop, said Wednesday on Facebook that her father was walking to a friend’s house when the fatal attack occurred on the Outrigger Drive roadway.

“I can’t even begin to put into words all the complicated things I feel right now,” said Matson. “Mostly I hate that (news coverage) says his name is ‘Robert Northrop’ cause everyone who knows him knows it’s Bob. Also he was an animal lover so this is an especially cruel twist of fate, but also all who knew him knows he never did anything half-assed, so we all knew he was gonna leave this world in some sort of wild and crazy way.
“Hopefully this will be the last time anyone on our island loses their life to a dog attack. He wasn’t the first but I will do everything in my power to make sure he is the last.”
According to Matson, an autopsy on her father’s body is scheduled for today.
Police are investigating Northrop’s killing as a negligent failure to control a dangerous dog case.
The dogs’ owners were not home at the time of the attack, police said. They have been identified, however, and contacted by officers.
So far, they haven’t been arrested or booked on suspicion of the dangerous dog charge — unlike Frederick Kassebeer, a dog owner who was almost immediately arrested and booked after the May 27 mauling of 32-year-old Amber Clausen, a neighbor of the Kassebeers’ Ainaloa property in Puna.
Kassebeer and his wife, Kazzy, have since been indicted and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“Without getting too far into the actual criminal investigation, I will just say for in order for us to make an arrest, we have to make sure that we have elements to prove all of the different parts of the crime, right? So, while it may appear pretty obvious that some of those elements have been met, some of them are going to require a little bit more investigation — which we are prepared to do immediately,” Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz said Wednesday.
Investigators are looking into claims that the dogs had previously been reported as stray animals, according to police, and that’s one of the elements that needs to be investigated before an arrest can be made, Moszkowicz said.
According to the chief, police have immediate access to the county’s animal control records, including when police handled the duties themselves, but not to the records of the nonprofit organizations that previously were contracted for animal control services.
“One of the elements of the crime can’t just be that the dogs got loose,” he said. “It has to be that the owner was reckless or acted negligently. So, if we can prove with those records that the dogs had previously gotten loose, that gives us a lot more evidence, where we can prove with the prosecutors and the courts the state of mind of the owners. That they should’ve known — even if they didn’t know — of this past pattern of behavior.”
Police say the owners have surrendered all four dogs alleged to have taken part in the attack, plus a litter of 10 puppies to county Animal Control agents.
“It really is a senseless tragedy. It’s something that could have, should have been avoided,” Moszkowicz said. “And we’re going to do our best to make sure that if there’s criminal liability, that the people who are liable are brought to justice.”
Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kirkiewicz authored the section of Hawaii County Code under which the Kassebeers are being prosecuted and police are using in their investigation into Northrop’s death.
In August 2021, an 85-year-old constituent of Kirkiewicz, Delores Oskins, was attacked by dogs in Hawaiian Paradise Park. She died 24 days later, on Sept. 5, 2021.
‘There was no justice for Delores Oskins when she was, basically, mauled to death, so we wanted to send a strong message to the community: Please secure your animal so that no one has to live in fear of being attacked and potentially dying,” Kirkiewicz said. “There was nothing to keep dog owners accountable, so we set up the framework in Bill 125, hoping that people see this and are driven to take every precaution necessary to make sure that their animals are secured.”
Kirkiewicz said she is “horrified” that police have twice had to use the dangerous dog law this year because of dog attacks, and indicated more might need to be done.
“We’re looking at the bill. Unfortunately, we’ve had to use it. But what more can we do to incentivize folks to make sure their dogs are secure? We have to look at that.”
Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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