The Animal Legal Defense Fund has just published its newest rankings and for the 10th consecutive year Kentucky has been ranked as the worst state for animal protection laws.
As an avid animal welfare activist and co-founder of UNITED Against Dog-Fighting, I know firsthand how difficult it is to get animal welfare legislation passed in Kentucky.
UNITED Against Dog-Fighting, along with many other animal-welfare organizations, lobbied and fought hard for nearly two years to get new anti-dogfighting legislation passed.
Kentucky was the only state in the nation where it was legal to own, train, breed, sell, possess or transfer a dog for the purpose of fighting.
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Dogfighting for profit or pleasure was already illegal, but only if one was caught in the act. It didn’t matter how much evidence there was of suspected dogfighting, nothing at all could be done about it. It was inconceivable to me, and many others, that this legislation had never been passed in our state.
Armed with a nationwide petition from change.org with over 68,000 signatures, we had several face-to-face meetings with legislators (one especially gnarly one in which a loud argument with a particularly oppositional senator occurred) and an onslaught of daily phone calls to legislators, and we were successful and the 2016 General Assembly passed a bill.
It can finally be said that all the states in our nation now have such legislation. However, as evidenced by the findings of the ALDF, there is much more work to be done.
Animal welfare in Kentucky seems to be an issue that few Kentuckians are aware of, or simply don’t consider.
One would think that in a state famous for horses that animal-welfare issues would be a priority. The evidence demonstrates otherwise. Could it be that we are so preoccupied with human concerns that animals simply don’t seem worth consideration?
Immanuel Kant, considered the central figure of modern philosophy, once said “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
Perhaps animal welfare is more important than we realize.
If society disregards the well-being of our animals, especially domesticated ones, are we then hardening ourselves to the plight of our fellow humans as well? Are we, in essence, losing a part of ourselves that enables us to empathize and sympathize?
It’s time we all stand up and demand that our legislators take an interest in the welfare of Kentucky’s animals. I, for one, am embarrassed and disheartened that our state is constantly perceived as a place filled with cruel and uncaring people.
There will be animal welfare bills introduced during this and future legislative sessions. Please help us rid Kentucky of “the worst state” label. It seems impossible, but I know from experience that changes can be made.
Simply contact your legislators whenever animal-welfare bills are introduced. Tell them to pass legislation that benefits the well-being of animals.
It’s up to us, for the sake of the animals who by no fault of their own reside here, to ensure Kentucky stops being the bottom of the barrel.
Renee Marcum-Losey of Stanton is an animal-welfare activist.