Kentucky lawmakers say animal abuse case shows need for stricter laws

72 little dogs seized from a home in Estill County are in need of a lot of care.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 4:20 PM CDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) -72 little dogs seized from a home in Estill County are in need of a lot of care. Animal Rescue group officials say they have fleas, parasites and other medical issues with vet bills that could total $5,000 to $10,000.

“The bill that Representative Banta and I are pushing is commonly known as the Cost of Care Bill,” said Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson, D-Lexington

Stevenson says the legislation would set up a process for the accused to pay for vet bills and care in cases where animals are neglected and abused. The problem is the bill hasn’t even been heard in a committee.

“It just has not gotten anywhere. Unfortunately, Kentucky has not been a leader in this. We have been dragging behind,” Rep. Stevenson said.

This suspect in the case, Delbert Webber, is facing a misdemeanor, and animal rescue groups say Kentucky needs more felonies when it comes to dog and cat abuse and neglect.

Lawmakers did pass Romeo’s Law a few years ago, which resulted from a Pulaski County torture case. But the Estill County attorney says he does not see this case upgraded to a felony.

Stevenson says most animal abuse laws are lenient on offenders. She says the right first step is House Bill 71, which has bipartisan support.

“I think it is a no-brainer that we should absolutely pass here,” said Stevenson.

Animal rescue groups say counties usually end up bearing the burden of vet bills in cases like the one in Estill County.