This is the first of a series of articles about Kentucky and the struggles of many in Kentucky including National Great Pyr Rescue (NGPR) volunteers, to increase animal protection in the state. NGPR wants to help and support their efforts. Companion animals in particular, are valued members of our families and although some states have better laws than others, there is always room for improvement in every state.
National Great Pyr Rescue recognizes that there are thousands of people nationwide who are working in all fifty states, not just in Kentucky, to improve protection for animals. But Kentucky faces more challenges than most. We know our rescue has a lot of fans in Kentucky and others have friends and family in the state. Working on the hypothesis that there is only six degrees of separation between all of us, we are hoping to spread the word so that the Kentucky state legislature begins to pay attention to the needs and wants of its citizens. Reform always starts with knowledge. In 2017, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) ranked Kentucky as number 54 in animal welfare laws for the 11th year in a row. Kentucky is ranked below Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands as well as the other 49 states. Only American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands rank lower than Kentucky.
The ALDF says Kentucky deserves such a ranking because of the following:
- Only one felony penalty (Cruelty 1st Degree, specifically for Dog-fighting).
- No penalties for:
- Neglect, even to killing the animal
- Other forms of cruelty, such as
- No adequate definitions or standards of basic care
- No law against bestiality
- No increase of penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor
- No mandatory forfeiture of animals
- Animal control officers have limited enforcement powers and no legally mandated training requirements
- No broad measures to mitigate and recover costs of care for abused animals that have been seized
- No law requiring courts to restrict ownership of animals after convictions
- No law requiring mental health evaluations and/or counseling for offenders
- Incredibly, veterinarians are prohibited from reporting animal abuse
Click here for the full report and to see where your state ranks. The lack of animal protection laws is not just a failure to protect animals. Future articles will show the link between animal abuse and human violence and how the lack of protection for animals also contributes to the lack of protection for people, particularly the vulnerable members of society such as children, seniors and adult victims of domestic violence. Please watch for future articles and help us spread the word. Kentucky's state motto is "United We Stand, Divided We Fall." National Great Pyr Rescue stands united with the citizens of Kentucky working toward their goals for better protection for animals. J.E.
Joye Estes is a former NGPR Board Member and Kentucky State Coordinator. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook.