Kentucky Profits While Its Horses Suffer

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on April 30, 2008

On the eve of the Kentucky Derby, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is calling for sweeping reforms to the bluegrass states laws protecting horses and other animals. According to a 2007 report released by ALDF, Kentucky ranks dead last in the nation in its laws protecting animals.

A recent horse neglect case in Harrison County highlights the stark contrast between the thoroughbred treatment of Kentucky’s prized Derby racers and the countless horses suffering in rural counties without adequate legal protection.

Of the over 30 neglected horses–three of whom were tattooed thoroughbreds who had been "run out"–16 were discovered dead on the property of defendants Haskell and Dinah Risner of Cynthiana by the time state police finally executed a search warrant in early November 2007. County Attorney Charles W. (Bill) Kuster would only authorize an "on-site" seizure–meaning that the suffering horses were left in the defendants’ care after their arrest and release, after which an additional horse died due to an untreated parasitic infestation.

Despite ALDF’s offers of assistance throughout the case, the horses were never seized from the defendants, who ultimately were given a slap-on-the-wrist plea agreement.

In addition to the Harrison County case, an epidemic of horse cruelty cases across the state have highlighted the weaknesses in Kentucky’s animal protection laws, including recent cases in Rockcastle County, Rowan County, and Jessamine County

"It’s a sad irony that while Kentucky promotes–and profits from–its world-renowned horse race, horses are literally starving to death throughout the state, often in plain sight of local law enforcement," says Scott Heiser, director of ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program. "Until the legislature and local sheriffs and prosecutors begin to take animal protection seriously, the home of the Derby will continue to hold the dubious title of ‘best state in the nation to be an animal abuser.’"

Read more about the animal protection law reforms ALDF is actively seeking in Kentucky…

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