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Legislation pushes to require owners to pay for care in animal cruelty cases

animal laws
Posted at 1:12 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 13:12:51-04

Animal advocates say certain laws need to be in place to ensure more rescues can happen nationwide.

Groups like the ASPCA are in support of legislation that would make animal abusers pay for the care of the pets they harm. Some states have these laws, others don’t. Some advocates say it’s long overdue that this legislation be everywhere.

What Kathy Hodge has always wanted was to love where she lives and love what she does. Today, she loves her home of Calloway County, Kentucky. As for work, she says being the executive director of the Humane Society of Calloway County is work that speaks to her.

“We have seven of the 31 puppies we have in foster right now,” said Hodge, motioning to a pile of fluffy small puppies fast asleep.

In decades of working with animals, Hodge said she’s seen people become so much more caring.

“It’s been going from looking at animals as a piece of property to looking at animals as being creatures we need to stand up for,” she said.

Hodge said in that there’s still work to be done. In cases of cruelty, where animals are seized, there come costs for shelter and vet care.

“It ends up being taxpayer dollars if it’s a government agency or donor dollars if it’s a humane society like us,” said Hodge.

She’s seen cases get wrapped up in court for a very long time, including one she remembers where she said 40 horses and 40 goats were taken from a property.

“We had possession of those animals for two years,” Hodge said. “The amount of money was in the tens of thousands of dollars to take care of those animals. It’s a struggle. Everybody ends up taking this financial obligation, everybody except the person convicted of the cruelty.”

A bill just introduced in Kentucky is looking to change that. The bill would require the owner in animal cruelty cases to pay for the animal’s care during court proceedings. This bill is what would be called an animal cost of care law. Some states have them and some don’t, and they vary by state.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, there’s a group of states with strong cost of animal care laws that includes Florida and Colorado. Then, there’s another group with laws they consider less strict at securing those payments. That includes California and New York. Finally, there are the 14 states without cost of animal care laws which include Arizona and Kentucky.

“We feel like it’s a long-overdue bill,” said Hodge.

Though Hodge loves where she lives, she said there are laws that can get passed to make it even greater. She believes that’s what should happen as the world becomes kinder to animals.

“Money shouldn’t be the issue we’re thinking about,” said Hodge. “We should be thinking about how things are going to be done right for the animals.”