Advocates say Kentucky’s animal cruelty laws are too lax
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Fayette County jury has found William Jackson guilty on 10 counts of animal cruelty.
This all stems from a case back in august where ten dogs were left in a hot car with temperatures reaching 137 degrees. Three of those dogs died.
William Jackson’s punishment was no animals for a year and a $100 fine.
An investigator with Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control says getting a conviction in these cases is rare.
“Animal cruelty cases sometimes are not taken seriously, and a lot of times, people view animals as property,” said Jai Hamilton of Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control. “So, in addition to that, animal cruelty is subjective in nature, so it is very hard to get wins when it comes to the court process.”
Seven puppies survived the ordeal.
Hamilton was on the scene that day. She says the puppies were gasping for oxygen and only taking in hot air.
“It was something that really haunted me personally,” said Hamilton. “Such a tragic thing that had happened.”
Hamilton says in 2021 there were 1,000 animal abuse complaints in Lexington with 59 charges. In 2022 that number rose to 72.
“Kentucky is one of the best states to be an animal abuser because the law is so lax here,” said Hamilton.
In the past, Hamilton has worked with State Representative Cherlynn Stevenson on an anti-animal cruelty law.
“I have filed legislation in the past. I haven’t filed anything yet this session, but we are always looking at ways to improve animal welfare in our state,” said Rep. Stevenson.
For more than a decade, the Animal Defense Fund ranked the Commonwealth as the worst state when it comes to animal cruelty laws.
“With a few bills that we’ve been able to pass over the last couple of years, we have moved up to 45th, but that means we have a very long way to go,” said Re. Stevenson.
Hamilton believes the penalty in the William Jackson case is weak.
“I think the penalty is very lenient, and we often see that when it comes to animal cruelty cases, unfortunately.”
Rep. Stevenson says parts of the Commonwealth have a long-standing history of looking at their pets and animals as property, and she says there needs to be a shift in thinking regarding protecting them from abuse.
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