Advocates push Ky. lawmakers to pass animal rights legislation

KENTON COUNTY, KY (FOX19) - Animal advocates in Kentucky are pushing lawmakers to pass a number of bills concerning animal abuse.

One of those bills would make dog fighting a felony. Another piece of legislation would require owners found guilty of animal cruelty to forfeit their animals, and prohibit them from owning animals of the same species for at least two years.

Advocates say Kentucky is 50th, dead last, for animal cruelty laws.

Kentucky just celebrated their annual Humane Lobby Day, discussing many of these issues, and supporters are trying to convince more lawmakers to back these bills.

But right here in the Tri-State there's advocates trying to do their part to better protect these animals.

Matt Elrod is a volunteer and says seeing animals neglected or mistreated by their owner takes a toll on him.

"It really makes you question your faith in humanity on a whole when you see an animal come in that's been beaten or starved or abused in some way" said Matt Elrod who volunteers at the Kenton County Animal Shelter.

Current law in Kentucky states that someone is charged with a felony after two incidents of abuse.

"Maybe if we start making it felonies and we start making it have a little teeth where people do some serious jail time that's when we'll start getting some people into it," said Elrod.

"Enough is enough, put an end to it now," said Dan Evans with the Kenton County Animal Shelter.

Kentucky also finds itself as the only state that doesn't make the possession of dogs for the purpose of fighting a crime. Evans says animals are still classified as "personal property".

"They still are a living breathing creature that can't speak for themselves," said Evans.

But since his time working here, Elrod says he's made a difference adopting two dogs, both in desperate need of a responsible owner.

"The amazing thing for animals in general is they're more likely to forgive and just move forward and just want that human interaction," said Elrod.

Since 2006, Kentucky has been ranked in the bottom five in animal protection laws. There's been some progress, but Elrod says it's far from enough.

"You can't save every animal but if you give your time and you give your effort, you have a chance to save one or two, and that's what I do," said Elrod.

Indiana will hold their Humane Lobby Day on February 25 in Indianapolis. While Ohio's is April 2nd in Columbus.

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