Animal funds

The bills would force owners of seized animals to pay for their care, saving shelters and taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Kentucky lawmakers are considering legislation to protect abused animals. Two bills, one in each bedroom, would give rescue agencies more power to cover housing costs.

Anita Spritzer with Legs 4 cause in Lexington reported easily seeing 30 to hundreds of animals seized in cruelty cases. The cost of caring for these animals adds up quickly.

“It’s time Kentucky stood up and had a voice for these animals.”

Animals like the more than 100 malnourished cats seized from a Lexington home in 2018. A problem the pandemic appears to have only exacerbated.

“We see so many animals that have been abandoned, starved, left behind, left in homes when people move. There is no one there. It’s just been a really, really tough year.

Currently, there is no law in Kentucky that requires owners of animals seized in cruelty cases to pay to care for them while charges are pending. Ultimately, the 2018 cat hoarding case cost taxpayers more than $100,000. Anita Spreitzer of Paws 4 the Cause said each rescued animal typically costs between $250 and $300 in vet bills. And that is if they are relatively healthy. Then they still have to pay for their stay until they are adopted.

“We took a case last year where there were over 60 animals living outside a house. The dogs had learned from the trash on the property to burrow under the mattresses and hide their pups at night so the coyotes couldn’t get to them. By the time we found out and were able to reach them, there were only 30 dogs left.

Senate Bill 125 and House Bill 71 could change that. Pending legislation would allow judges in such cases to order the owner to pay the costs. Spreitzer said Kentucky should have had a bill like this years ago.

“This is what is happening 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 top tier of states, joined by Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and 10 others.

Other states are considered mid-tier, which is where we see neighboring states, like Ohio, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

And top states include Maine, Illinois, Oregon, and Florida. This means they have the strictest animal cruelty laws.

Spreitzer said they also desperately need animal foster homes. She said that with so many animals being thrown, abandoned or seized, the shelters are overwhelmed and they need help.

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