FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) – The House Judiciary Committee will consider House Bill 56 on Wednesday. The measure would require people found guilty of animal cruelty to give up their animal, and would prohibit them from owning another pet for two years.
Committee Chairman John Tilley (D - Hopkinsville) decided to hear the bill after proponents agreed to amend it to apply only to dogs and cats. His decision sparked cheers when announced by animal activists at a Rotunda rally.
The committee, however, is not scheduled to consider House Bill 156 which would require animal owners to provide shelter and shade for dogs.
A dog thrown from a car and seriously injured in Louisville last September took center stage at the Humane Lobby Day at the state capitol.
"Hope's story spread hope," said Rebecca Eaves of the Shamrock Foundation Arrow Fund, which has helped fund the border collie's surgeries and rehabilitation.
Without House Bill 56, Hope's original owners would still have a legal claim to the dog, despite the abuse.
Eaves said in the five months since the dog was seriously injured near Crittenden Drive, Hope has helped other animals.
"She's been having rehabilition every single day since September," Eaves said. Despite multiple surgeries and plates in her back, Hope is now running and playing. Eaves added that the group aims to find a permanent home for the dog, an owner with a one story home.
Another measure proposed by Kentucky's Animal Welfare Alliance aims to make animal cruelty defendants pay for the care of confiscated animals.
"These are very very important issues," said Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Shively), "We are going to be judged on how we treat the least of us and I believe that sincerely."
Yet - the bills have a long way to go -- and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is instead focusing most of his time in the short session on a 133 page penal code reform bill -- a major piece of legislation to treat drug offenders rather than imprison them.
"It's been a huge effort to get where we are right now," explained Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville), "and I think you're talking about sometimes you have to prioritize what affects the greatest number of people."
"We're trying to make it a priority," responded Pam Rogers, the Kentucky Director of the Humane Society of U.S, "and it doesn't require a lot of discussion. It's pretty straightforward and it should pass out fairly quickly and should go to the floor."
Meanwhile, another animal measure got the green light in the house health and welfare committee today. It would allow cats to be designated as service animals. An epilepsy foundation spokeswoman says she believes the measure has the votes to pass in both the house and senate - but it's unclear if the short session will allow lawmakers enough time to bring the bill to a vote.