West KY Legislator Proposes Bill To Make Dog, Cat Torture A Felony
A west Kentucky legislator is proposing a measure to make the torture of dogs and cats a Class D felony in the commonwealth.
Sixth District State Representative Chris Freeland, a Republican, pre-filed the bill for the 2021 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly. He told WKMS the legislation will strengthen existing state laws concerning animal abuse.
“It includes some of the federal language with the [animal] crushing. And also it expands on something somewhat called ‘intentional neglect and abuse.’ It’s where someone will want to get rid of an animal or maybe they're doing it as a way to punish a spouse or a child,” Freeland said.
The bill would expand the current statute to include protections for all dogs and cats, not just domestic pets as previously legislated. The law would be amended to read, “a person is guilty of torture of a dog or cat when he or she without legal justification intentionall tortures a dog or cat.”
Other new components would include language defining specific types of torture. Failing to provide proper care to dogs and cats in the form of food and shelter could qualify as abuse under the proposal.
Freeland said the measure is attracting bipartisan support, and he expects more legislators to express approval once the session begins. He said eleven legislators are currently signed on as co-sponsors.
“I would expect several more once the session starts. The legislators are, I don’t want to say they’re hesitant to sign on to bills before they’re filed, but it’s just not done as much. So I’m very happy to have that many on there already,” Freeland said.
Even though budget negotiations and bills to limit Governor Andy Beshear’s emergency powers are expected to make up the bulk of the legislature’s work for the session, Freeland hopes his bill and other bills will still be put up for votes.
“This session will be unique in that there will probably be very few bills that actually do pass, only because there’s never been…a thirty day session where they’ve had a budget included. That will take up the most amount of time of anything,” Freeland said. “I’m hopeful that some of the other good bills like mine and some of the others that have been filed will have a chance to pass.”
The 2021 legislative session begins January 5 in Frankfort.