Governor, Agriculture Commissioner sued over animal shelter conditions in KY

Governor, Agriculture Commissioner sued over animal shelter conditions in KY

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A lawsuit filed on Thursday alleges that government animal shelters in Kentucky do not meet the minimum standards of the law due to lack of code enforcement.

Private shelters Fiona's Legacy and TLC Rescue, listed as defendants in the suit, allege that they have been forced to pay costs out of pocket for basic animal shelter services because county governments do not properly enforce laws regarding animal welfare.

Governor Matthew Bevin and Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Ryan Quarles are named as defendants in the suit.

The plaintiffs allege that government departments under Bevin and Quarles have "failed or refused to monitor or enforce the laws leaving them largely useless and of no import."

The Humane Shelter Law (KRS 258), the law mentioned in the suit, sets forth minimum standards for animal control facilities. The law requires that county shelters provide separate holding areas for ill or injured animals, basic veterinary care, protection from weather, adequate heat in winter, clean and dry pens, adequate lighting, clean potable water and uncontaminated food.

The lawsuit claims that those standards are not being met.

An excerpt from the lawsuit under Count I item 2:

"The evidence will show only 12% of Kentucky's 120 counties are in compliance with the Humane Shelter Law while over 50% are in violation of three or more parts of the HSL. Major problems existent include but are not limited to pet overpopulation leading to crowded shelters, insufficient work force at shelters, and lack of education of shelter personnel. Additionally, a number of shelters are inadequate as a result of aging and poorly maintained facilities built with inappropriate materials that cannot be properly cleaned or disinfected; poor ventilation; lack of appropriate veterinary care; and lack of appropriate quarantine areas."

The complaint was filed in Franklin County on Thursday afternoon.

KDA spokesman Sean Southard released the following statement:

"We are reviewing the complaint. The Department of Agriculture has no inspection or enforcement powers, or appropriations, from the General Assembly for animal shelter standards enforcement."

Neither Bevin or Quarles had released statements responding to the lawsuit's allegations as of Thursday evening.

Copyright 2018 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.