Bills would make seized animal owners pay for their care, saving shelters and tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky lawmakers are considering legislation to protect abused animals. Two bills, one in each chamber would give rescuing agencies more power to cover shelter costs.
Anita Spreitzer with Paws 4 the Cause in Lexington said they easily see anywhere from 30 to hundreds of animals seized in cruelty cases. The cost of care for these animals adds up quickly.
“It’s time that Kentucky stands up and has a voice for these animals.”
Animals like the more than 100 malnourished cats seized from a Lexington home back in 2018. A problem the pandemic seems to only have exacerbated.
“We see so many animals that have been abandoned, starved, left behind, left in houses when people move out. There’s nobody there. It’s just been a really, really hard year.”
Right now, there’s no law in Kentucky that requires owners of animals seized in cruelty cases to pay for taking care of them while charges in the case are pending. In the end, the 2018 cat hoarding case cost taxpayers more than $100,000. Anita Spreitzer with Paws 4 the Cause said each animal rescued typically costs a shelter $250 to $300 in vet bills up front. And that’s if they’re relatively healthy. Then they still have to pay for their stays until they’re adopted.
“We took a case on last year where there were over 60 animals living outside of a home. The dogs had learned with the garbage on the property to burrow under mattresses and hide their puppies at night so the coyotes wouldn’t get to them. By the time we found out and could get to them, there were only 30 dogs left.”
Senate Bill 125 and House Bill 71 could change this. The pending legislation would allow judges in these cases to order the owner to pay the costs. Spreitzer said Kentucky should have had a bill like this years ago.
“This is what’s going on and we need help.”
Kentucky currently ranks 45th in the nation for worst animal protection laws, according to data from the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Kentucky is in the bottom tier of states, joined by Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and 10 others.
Other states are considered middle tier, that’s where we see neighboring states, like Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee.
And top tier states include Maine, Illinois, Oregon and Florida. This means they have the strongest laws against animal cruelty.
Spreitzer said they are also in desperate need of animal fosters. She said since they’re seeing so many animals dumped, abandoned or seized, shelters are becoming overwhelmed and they need help.
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