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

Mar 3, 2020

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

Credit AP Photo/Patti Longmire

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.