When I walk the streets of east Louisville, Kentucky, I see a town that loves its dogs. Dogs and their humans are everywhere: in the Morton Avenue Dog Park, in the dog friendly wine shops, at street festivals, at the patios of bars and restaurants.
On Nextdoor.com, my neighbors religiously track and return lost dogs and cats, sometimes before the owners even post the loss. My neighbors may or may not like me, but this is know: If I lost one of my dogs, they would form a dragnet to find her.
If my dogs were the only consideration, I would choose Louisville over a lot of cities, especially Denver and Miami where anti-pitbull laws are still in place.
So it was something of a shock to learn that Kentucky has been rated dead last in protecting its critters by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).
Rankings are based on laws, not actions
It’s important to note that this poor ranking is not based on the way Kentucky families and farmers actually treat their animals. Kentucky’s poor showing is because of its laws.
When it comes to animals, Kentucky has committed some sins of omission. Sure, we have laws on the books that protect an animal from cruelty and fighting.
But we have no laws that protect animals from abandonment, neglect, and sexual assault.
Should we worry about our laws when, all around us, dogs and cats appear to be cherished?
Yes, we should. Because, at the end of the day, there’s no way to measure the total love for pets or the sum of care for livestock in any state. We are stuck with laws as a metric.
Our vets are gagged
Perhaps even more troubling is a law on Kentucky’s books that prevents veterinarians from reporting cruelty to animals when they see it.
People who are abusing dogs, cats, and bunnies are unlikely to seek veterinary care. The obvious victims of this law are Kentucky’s horses.
Does this gag law exist to protect someone who hurts his own racehorse for the insurance pay off?
We need to get off this list
Even if your heart doesn’t melt every time you see a puppy on Youtube.com, you should care about this issue. A state whose reputation is largely based on horses cannot afford to be the worst state on the AlDF’s list. Kentuckians need to reach across the isle and forge laws that better protect our non-human friends and family members.