WARREN CO., Ky. (WBKO) - On Thursday, January 21, animal control officials with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office said they found 63 dogs at a home on Whitlock Road in the Alvaton area.
Warren County Sheriff Brett Hightower said after an investigation they found the homeowner was operating a business breeding and selling the animals, however, the animals were not being properly taken care of, and the environment was anything but sanitary.
The woman responsible for the puppy mill was charged with 63 counts of animal cruelty. Sheriff Hightower said this was mainly because of the number of feces and urine found within the living space of the animals. He went on to say that Kentucky laws around animal welfare could be stricter to prevent these situations, and hold breeders to a higher standard.
“What’s unfortunate is a lot of times in these situations, we run across these puppy mills or other situations, and animal control does a wonderful job responding to a lot of calls for service, complaints, and tips about different care custody of animals, but the Kentucky laws really hobble us in a lot of ways,” Sheriff Hightower said.
Sheriff Hightower and Tracy Moser with the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society both expressed that Kentucky laws around animal welfare and cruelty are too vague. This sometimes prevents law enforcement from being able to do their job to protect animals how they wish they could, and convict those responsible for the abuse.
“I truly believe Kentucky could do much better with the laws that we have that would be more specific to anybody running any business when it comes to selling or trading dogs, cats,” Sheriff Hightower said.
You can find a copy of Kentucky’s laws around animal welfare at this link https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/statutes/.
Tracy Moser, the Humane Educator with the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society has also created a website with direct links to the legislation that involves the care of animals. You can visit that website by clicking here.
“If we had some sort of department, some sort of education, and someone who could inspect these places when there is a complaint, more so than an animal control officer, one that is always inspecting, just like the health department regulates restaurants, then we could actually prevent a lot of this stuff from happening,” Moser explained.
She went on to say that some lawmakers are against the idea of putting more regulations on breeding and selling animals because Kentucky is an agricultural state, and many farmers breed and sell their farm animals. Moser said dogs, cats, and other animals people sell as ‘pets’ should fall under a different category as there are many more cases of neglect surrounding those types of operations.
“We’re an agricultural state. If you want to breed and raise cows, that is fine. There is no law against it. If you want to breed and raise dogs and cats, there is no law against it. However, you do need to have the responsibility of being humane in your raising of these animals,” Moser said.
There is also no law requiring a breeder to show proof of vaccinations before they sell an animal, another suggestion Sheriff Hightower had that could be added to existing laws around animal welfare.
“People, unbeknownst to them, will purchase these animals, and they are not cheap, and then they get them, and due to the circumstances, sometimes because of the environment, these dogs become ill,” Sheriff Hightower explained.
“What we ask people to do is to vet anybody that you’re going to purchase one of these animals from. Maybe even go out and physically walk through and see the facility in which they are doing these programs to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable.”
Tracy Moser said the best way to make a change is to educate yourself on Kentucky laws regarding animal welfare, and then contact your state representative or local lawmakers to share your viewpoints on how they could be improved.
You can find all of the resources to do so, including the bills that are up for discussion this legislative session that involves animal welfare, on her website kyanimalwelfare.com.