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Canines In The Capitol: Animal Advocates Rally For Action

Josh James

Animal welfare advocates populated committee rooms and the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday, urging votes on a pair of bills aimed at curbing dog fighting and keeping animals sheltered.

Canines made themselves at home in the Capitol Tuesday, as their two-legged companions made the case for stricter animal welfare laws in Kentucky. A number of the demonstrators sat in on a House Judiciary committee meeting, where lawmakers heard arguments on House Bill 177. That measure would require anyone in custody of an animal to provide “adequate shelter.”

"We've had many, many calls about dogs chained outside when it's -9 with no shelter, no house, nothing. Really? This is not right and Kentucky needs to fix this," state director for the Humane Society of the United States Pamela Rogers said.

And while the measure cleared committee, chair John Tilley said definitions could present a stumbling block for some of his colleagues.

"The bill is somewhat controversial because what is adequate is different to some people. What is adequate to you may be different from what is adequate to me," he told WUKY. 

Though the bill does not include livestock, Tilley says the meaning of that word might still wind up being a question for the courts.

Meanwhile, a measure criminalizing the owning and breeding of dogs for fighting successfully passed a House committee but has yet to be heard in the full chamber. That bill has also encountered resistance from the Kentucky Houndsmen Association, which argues the law is too broadly written and should be limited specifically to dog-on-dog fighting.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.