KY ranks last for animal cruelty laws; Henry County shelter to be replaced

Published: Dec. 15, 2011 at 3:13 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2012 at 2:01 AM EST
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Pam Rogers
Pam Rogers
State Rep. Rick Rand
State Rep. Rick Rand

HENRY COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - The search is still on for two people responsible for 218 counts of animal cruelty in Henry County. Charges have officially been filed against Ken and Terri Smith. The couple is on the run from police, but are expected to be in the area. The case is prompting a lot of talk about animal cruelty in Kentucky. While the Louisville skyline may be a pretty sight we've learned it's not such a pretty life for animals.

"Kentucky is at the bottom of the heap as far as animal cruelty laws," said Pam Rogers with the U. S. Humane Society. "We rank 50th."

This week's animal raid in Henry County is proof of that as officials scramble to clean and care for 200 of these feces covered animals. Most have been have been taken in by foster families, but aren't allowed to be adopted until this case goes through court.

With the couple police say responsible for this on the run it could be awhile before justice is served; but that justice, may just be a slap on the wrist.

"Regardless of how severely the animal is neglected or how much it suffers it's pretty much a small fine and a probated sentence," Rogers said. "It could be a year in jail in but it's not usually what happens."

Rogers has been working to get Kentucky lawmakers to beef up animal cruelty laws.

"For many years we've had a culture that has not really embraced and understood the link between animal violence and human violence and how well it's connected," Rogers said.

"Anytime it does happen in the district you represent it does give it a heightened since of awareness and I will be looking at it very closely," said State Representative Rick Rand, who represents Henry County.

Rand said he will encourage a conversation about animal cruelty at the January session, but isn't optimistic of tougher laws.

"Those are very difficult and very tricky to pass because of hunting," said Rand. "Hunters naturally want to remain protected and farmers want to remain protected."

Money is another issue. If it wasn't for countless volunteers, the staff of one full time and two part time employees would be over whelmed.

"We have finite resources and we're in very difficult budget times so it's going to be a little difficult for us to improve on that now," Rand said.

The Henry-Trimble County Animal Care and Control Shelter is in the process of being replaced. It just so happens that bids to construct a new facility will be accepted starting Thursday afternoon. The new facility will be built about ten miles from the current one on land donated by a landfill and paid in part from grants.

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