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Kentucky House Committee Approves Bill To Require 'Adequate Shelter' For Outdoor Animals

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Another animal cruelty bill is making its way through the Kentucky House of Representatives. The proposal would make providing inadequate shelter for an animal or being a spectator at an animal fight punishable as a Class B misdemeanor.

“Unfortunately we have cruel people in our society who don’t see the need to do things for domestic animals like provide adequate shelter, like provide adequate water particularly in times of these adverse conditions,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg and sponsor for the bill.

The bill only applies to four-legged animals and would not apply to livestock. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $250.

One provision in the bill would require owners to provide adequate healthcare for their animals. Rep. Kerr, a Republican from Taylor Mill says that the requirement might be too onerous for some poor Kentuckians.

“We don’t want to criminalize people who don’t have the means to provide health care to a pet,” Kerr said. “Do we want to send people to jail for that kind of thing?”

Several committee members said that a definition of “adequate shelter” might be hard to pin down. Stumbo said that adequacy would depend on the species and age of an animal, and final determinations would be figured out in court. Franklin and Fayette counties have already established their own definitions for adequate shelter.

Rep. Watkins, a Democrat from Paducah, argued that the bill would protect human lives too, “People who will abuse animals will abuse human beings, so your bill is important in a lot of ways,” Watkins said.

Stumbo has proposed another animal cruelty bill, which would prohibit owning, breeding, transporting or selling four-legged animals for the purpose of fighting. That bill has passed out of committee but is still waiting to be heard by the full House. Hunters associations have taken issue with the bill, saying that it would make criminals out of those who use dogs to hunt wild game.