State

11 years in a row, Kentucky ranks last for protecting animals, report says

These puppies of various mixed breeds at the Franklin County Humane Society in August 2012 were among 19 dogs and four birds rescued from a Franklin County home. The owners were charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty. The Animal Legal Defense Fund released a report recently ranking Kentucky last in animal-protection laws for the 11th straight year.
These puppies of various mixed breeds at the Franklin County Humane Society in August 2012 were among 19 dogs and four birds rescued from a Franklin County home. The owners were charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty. The Animal Legal Defense Fund released a report recently ranking Kentucky last in animal-protection laws for the 11th straight year. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Kentucky has been the worst state in the nation for animal protection laws for more than a decade, according to a recent report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

This is the 11th consecutive year that Kentucky has been ranked last, according to a news release from the organization, which says its mission is “to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system.”

The organization says it gave Kentucky the ranking for a variety of reasons Veterinarians are prohibited from reporting suspected animal cruelty or fighting; humane officers lack broad enforcement authority; and the state has felony provisions only for cruelty and fighting, and then only for select animals.

The defense fund says Kentucky needs increased penalties for when abuse involves multiple animals or when it is committed in the presence of minors; mental health evaluations or counseling for offenders; provisions for sexual assault of animals; and the statutory authority to allow animals to be covered by protective orders.

They also said the state has no cost mitigation or recovery provisions for impounded animals, and no restrictions on future ownership of animals after a conviction.

Other states near the bottom of the list are North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and Iowa.

The organization ranked Illinois best for animal protection, followed by Oregon, California, Maine and Rhode Island.

The organization noted that Kentucky has new protections in place for service animals, and new forfeiture provisions for abuse of an equine.

It mentioned a trend in which several states have enacted laws granting civil immunity to people who are trying to rescue animals from hot cars. The Kentucky Senate passed a similar bill passed Wednesday, and it’s pending in the state House.

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