Kentucky Takes a Step BackwardsPosted by Stephan Otto, ALDF's Director of Legislative Affairs on July 15, 2009
Late last month, SB 151, a law pushed by the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association (KVMA) went into effect in Kentucky. And in so doing, Kentucky, already the worst state for animal protection laws in the nation, took another step backwards.
So what is this new law all about? Well, the law establishes a new confidential veterinarian-client-patient relationship and expressly states that veterinarians may not release information about a client or their care of an animal except when there is a client waiver or when they receive a court order or subpoena. And therein lays the rub – the unintended consequence. Until this law went into effect, veterinarians, while under no obligation to report suspected cases of animal cruelty to authorities, could report it if they so chose. This new law precludes such commendable and important acts.
Earlier this year, ALDF became aware of this oversight in the bill and drafted an amendment to fix the problem. However, despite our best efforts, this critical amendment was not added to the final version of the bill that passed. In fact, even after the bill was signed into law, some stakeholders were under the false impression that the amendment had been included. Nonetheless, under the law now in effect, veterinarians face civil liability, and may even risk their licenses, for simply reporting suspected cases of animal cruelty or neglect to law enforcement officials.
The KVMA has stated to us that they intend to push for a legislative fix to this law early next year. We have agreed to help in any way we can to ensure that veterinarians can once again report cases of suspected animal abuse without legal exposure, and that Kentucky begins to finally move forward with its laws protecting animals.