LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Kentucky lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require accused animal abusers to pay board, transportation, vet bills and other costs while their court cases are pending.
Currently in Kentucky, agencies that seize animals in potentially abusive situations are required by law to keep the animals and pay for their care until the owner’s criminal prosecution is completed.
From Julia Sharp’s experience, she said the process took years. Sharp is the director of TLC Rescue, which seized 108 dogs in May 2018 at the Trixie Foundation, a private Elliot County animal shelter with allegations of cruelty. exhibited by WAVE 3 news convenience stores in a series of surveys.
Trixie Foundation operator Randy Skaggs was charged with 179 counts of animal cruelty three years ago. However, he was initially allowed to keep his dogs because the state and county could not afford to take them.
“It was the cost that kept them from enforcing animal cruelty laws,” Sharp said. “The only way to get these animals out was for my little rescue to step up and accept the cost of their care.”
She rescued the dogs in May 2020. As required by Kentucky law, Sharp must keep the animals and pay for their care until Skaggs’ criminal proceedings are completed. However, Sharp said his trial has been delayed for years and still hasn’t started.
All the while, Sharp said she spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on medical bills and other dog supplies, while Skaggs is financially off the hook.
“We are not the ones who broke the law, but we are the ones who are being punished for it,” Sharp said. “We’ve been put in a really ugly position, and there’s no way out of it.”
A pre-filed invoice by Reps Kim Banta (R-Ft. Mitchell) and Cherlynn Stevenson (D-Lexington) would require the owner to pay the cost of caring for the animal or abandon the animal so that it can be hosted for adoption.
Kentucky is one of 12 states that currently does not have this kind of law.
Banta said in a legislative hearing that the bill would benefit shelters, taxpayers and animals.
“Sometimes people don’t tackle big animal cruelty or hoarding (situations) because they don’t want the cost of care, and that actually gives them the option to have the cost of care if that happens, ”Banta said.
“That would put the whole cost on the abuser,” Sharp said. “They should pay to take care of these animals, or they should sign them, and when they sign them, these animals are now free and clear to live a better life, to go to relief houses, etc.” she continued. “It would change everything. “
Kentucky lawmakers attempted to pass a similar bill last year, but it was not heard. The next legislative session will begin in January.
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