February 24, 2012
Animal Advocates Lobby Kentucky Lawmakers for Stronger Pet Protection Legislation
Citizens from across Kentucky participating in the state’s 10th annual Humane Lobby Day, met with lawmakers at the Capitol to urge them to support legislation to expand vital protections for animals. One top-priority measure would add protections for pets in domestic violence cases. Another would forbid persons convicted of animal cruelty from keeping animals. The Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and the Kentucky Animal Welfare Alliance sponsored Humane Lobby Day.
“Kentucky lags behind other states in its animal welfare laws, but legislators can make some important strides this session with protections for companion animals,” said Pam Rogers, The HSUS’ Kentucky state director. “This day is an opportunity for animal advocates throughout the state to come together and let their legislators know they are very concerned about the overall status of animal welfare in our state.”
“It's important for Kentucky lawmakers to hear from their constituents to improve the state’s animal cruelty laws and enact stronger protections for our companion animals,” said Carolyn Schnurr, ASPCA federal legislative manager. “Humane Lobby Day is a unique opportunity for animal advocates from across the state to meet with their elected officials and have their voices heard.”
Attendees urged their representatives to support H.B. 273, sponsored by Ron Crimm, R-Jefferson, Linda Belcher, D- Bullitt, John Carney, R-Adair and Taylor, and Donna Mayfield, R- Clark and Madison, which requires persons convicted of animal cruelty to forfeit their animal and prohibits ownership of animals of the same species for two years. This is aimed at preventing an abused or tortured animal from being returned to the abuser.
To illustrate the importance of strong pet protection laws, a border collie named Shamrock who survived a serious gunshot wound to his face made a special appearance alongside participants. The dog was rescued a rehabbed by a group called The Shamrock Arrow Fund. The group’s director, Rebecca Eaves, also brought along other canine victims of neglect to drive home the point that pets need strong laws on their side.
Advocates also urged representatives to support H.B. 233, sponsored by Joni Jenkins, D-Jefferson, and Kelly Flood, D-Fayette, which would include pets in domestic violence protective orders. Pets are often used as leverage to control family members who want to leave an abusive situation. This bill would allow the family pet to receive the protection of the courts.
Kentucky ranks 42nd in The HSUS’ 2011 state animal protection rankings, which grades each state based on a wide range of animal protection laws dealing with pets, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife, animals in research, horses and farm animals. The state gained points for banning the private possession of wild animals, but ranks low as one of only 10 states without felony penalties for cockfighting and is the only state that does not consider possession of dogs used for fighting a felony.