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'Things are changing': Kentucky animal advocates hope to build on gradual momentum to increase protections

Louisville Assumption High School teacher holds Arrow Rescue dog Penny, whom she adopted and now brings to school
Josh James
Josh James
Louisville Assumption High School teacher Lindsey Peetz holds Arrow Rescue dog Penny, whom she adopted.

Animal advocates converged on the Capitol Tuesday, in the hopes of making another small step toward improving the commonwealth's persistently low animal protection rankings.

When it comes to animal protection laws, Kentucky sat at last place in the nation for 13 years running according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund's rankings. Mychell Lawson, founder of Kentucky Animal Action, says the state has slowly inched up in recent years due to small, hard-fought campaigns over issues that many might consider common sense protections.

"Everything that everyone thinks is a no-brainer, it never is," she said. "Animal sexual assault, we had opposition. Vet reporting, we had opposition. Dog fighting, opposition... So we just gotta keep on keeping on and things are changing."

This year, Lawson and the other advocates hope to pass Senate Bill 230, aimed at recouping government costs of seizing and impounding abused animals, sponsored by Republican Sen. Julie Raque Adams.

Animal action rallies often strive to put a face on the problem. This year's four-legged spokesperson was Penny, an Arrow Fund rescue dog found thrown out of a car in a plastic bag and took a year to recover from broken and rebroken bones, infection, and other results of extreme abuse.

Louisville teacher Lindsey Peetz, who's helped shepherd a student-driven Humane Action Team, says Penny now serves as friendly face at her school.

"Penny goes with me to Assumption High School and hangs out with our students and is a kind of a therapy dog in our guidance office," she said. "I always say there is a power in Penny because she always make them feel better."

It's a power rally-goers hope will help convince Kentucky lawmakers to advance more animal-friendly bills.

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.