ALDF Supports HB 277 in Kentucky

Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on March 14, 2011

The Kentucky Legislature is currently considering a bill that would significantly improve the conditions under which thousands of dogs and cats live in the state’s animal shelters. The Animal Legal Defense Fund recently sent a letter in support of the bill to the Kentucky House Agriculture & Small Business Committee.

House Bill 277, introduced by Representative Ron Crimm, would institute important reforms designed to recognize widespread developments in how we think about companion animals, establish stronger humane shelter standards, require regular inspections of shelters, and promote adoptions while reducing the killing of unwanted animals.

First, HB 277 would change the name of the state board in charge of animal shelters from the “Animal Control Advisory Board” to the “Animal Care Advisory Board.” While the distinction between “control” and “care” may seem semantic to some, it reflects important philosophical developments about how we relate to companion animals. Over the last several decades, we’ve evolved from seeing stray and abandoned animals as a problem to be “controlled” to co-inhabitants who deserve care and respect.

Second, HB 277 would not only change the name of the Board, it would also increase the Board’s powers and responsibilities, giving it authority to establish more specific standards for the humane treatment of animals in public shelters.

Third, HB 277 would also empower the Board to inspect animal shelters to ensure compliance with welfare standards. Currently, Kentucky’s Humane Shelter Law lacks an enforcement provision, and ALDF has been forced to litigate conditions at shelters through the judicial system. We have had important victories through such litigation in Estill County and Robertson County, but county-by-county litigation is no substitute for vigorous enforcement by a state agency.

Fourth, HB 277 would task the Board with setting performance standards for increasing the rate of adoptions of impounded animals and reducing the number of animals killed in animal shelters. Given the serious overpopulation of stray dogs and cats in the state, such performance standards are absolutely necessary.

As March 22 is the final day for legislative action this year, we encourage Kentucky residents to contact their legislators today and urge them to support HB 277 to help save shelter animals throughout Kentucky.

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