Animal advocates say lawmakers need to put more teeth into animal cruelty legislation or risk perpetuating the state's persistently low national rankings. Visitors - of the human and canine variety - brought that message to Frankfort Tuesday.
2017's Humane Day rally attracted more than 80 people to the Capitol rotunda to press lawmakers on the state's oft-criticized cruelty laws - ranked last in the nation 10 years running by the Animal Legal Defense Fund - and call for greater oversight of shelters. Kathryn Callahan with the Humane Society of the United States says many are cramped, with under-trained staff and no reliable heating.
"We do have statutory shelter standards. A lot of shelters, as you heard today, are not in compliance with even the minimum standards for shelters in Kentucky," she told WUKY.
House Concurrent Resolution 43, creating an eleven-member Shelter Oversight and Pet Overpopulation Task Force, along with House Bill 480, an anti-bestiality measure, appear dead for this session, but Callahan and her group plan to keep the pressure on legislators during the interim.
One animal measure poised for passage by both chambers this session is House Bill 200, which allows increased financial penalties for horse owners convicted of animal cruelty. It comes in response to a case involving the abandonment of 43 horses in Mercer County.
Another horse-related bill, SB149, reclassifies horses as livestock. Sponsor Sen. Robin Webb has argued the change would be a step forward for the state's equine industry, while the Texas-based Horse Fund is campaigning against the measure, warning it will reduce the protections horses have as domestic animals.
Last year, the General Assembly passed an anti-dog fighting measure.