Kentucky bill lets veterinarians report animal abuse cases to law enforcement

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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) Kentucky veterinarians may soon be allowed to report cases of animal abuse.

The state Senate approved a bill giving them that right last week and the Kentucky House is now looking at it.

State sen. C.B. Embry, R-Butler County, a bill co-sponsor, says Kentucky is the only state in the country currently not allowing them to report abuse, neglect or cruelty cases.

“It’s not extremely common, but it does happen and it is hard to tell sometimes,” says Dr. Cindy Wolfe of Wills Animal Hospital in Owensboro. She says they rarely see cases of animal abuse, but under current state law, they can’t report it to police or state veterinarians.

“We would like to be able to tell somebody. ‘Can you look into this? This doesn’t seem like it’s right.’ Even to our shelter, if we have someone come in, we can’t call the shelter and say, ‘Can you check up on this household,'” she says.

A senate bill unanimously passed last week allows veterinarians who suspects abuse of a pet dog or cat to report it to either a local law enforcement agency, or in the case of livestock or poultry, the office of the state veterinarian.

“Others, doctors and medical personnel, are required to report child abuse. It seems reasonable that a veterinarian under those circumstances would report that information,” says Daviess Co. Attorney Claud Porter.

The bill also offers protections from liability to a veterinarian if the reported case is not abuse.

“So, this will, kind of, help us because there’s lots of different abuse situations that are out there,” says Dr. Wolfe.

Porter says if it becomes law, he hopes it encourages more people to better take care of pets or livestock they care for.

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(This story was originally published on March 9, 2020)

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