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KY Bill Lets Veterinarians Report Abuse, But They'll Need A Second Opinion On Farmed Animals

AP Photo/Patti Longmire

A bill granting Kentucky veterinarians legal protections if they report suspected animal abuse to law enforcement has cleared committee, but not without one change.

As it stands, veterinarians need a waiver, subpoena, or court order to alert authorities of possible animal abuse. Backers of Senate Bill 21 hope to change that.

"We remain the only state in the nation that does not allow veterinarians to report when they become aware of it," sponsor CB Embry told the Senate Agriculture Committee. "We need to correct that shortcoming."

It's one of several measures that has landed Kentucky on or near the bottom of animal welfare surveys for years.

But while SB 21 did take its first step toward passage in the Senate Tuesday, it did so with some new compromise language that creates a different standard for farmed animals. In those cases, the state veterinarian would have to give a second opinion before a possible abuse report could be issued, according to Judy Taylor with the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association.

"Livestock is very important in this state. We want to make sure that when we're looking at something, we're looking at the whole herd, not just maybe one or two," she told WUKY. "We don't want to shut down a farm or anything like that that may have a small problem."

The changes were introduced after bill drafters met with a cattlemen's group and the state Farm Bureau.

The new version of the bill now heads to the Senate.

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.