Romeo’s Law Signed by the Governor!

DogUpdate: Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has signed Romeo’s Law, S.B. 58. The bill is now law.

The bill was earlier passed by the Kentucky legislature.  Romeo’s Law, KY S.B. 58 which makes it a Class D felony to torture a dog or cat unless it is a first offense and there is only physical injury that is not serious.

There was one major amendment to the bill that was approved by both the House and Senate. The torture of a dog or cat would still be a misdemeanor on the first offense if the animal sustained physical injury and a Class D felony on second and subsequent offenses. If the animal suffered serious physical injury or death, the abuser could be charged with a Class D felony on the first and subsequent offenses. 

The bill passed both the House and Senate and then each concurred in this amendment in very short order on April 15.

For more on this bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s original report below.

Original report: A man in Pulaski County, Kentucky was caught on videotape cruelly beating his dog, Romeo. Now, Kentucky may pass stronger penalties for animal cruelty. State Senator Tom Buford and Rep. Stan Lee have introduced a bill, KY S.B. 58, that would make it a Class D felony on the first and subsequent offenses to torture a dog or cat. The bill is also called Romeo’s Law.

The crime would be punishable by a sentence of 1-5 years in prison. Currently, torture of a dog or cat is a Class A misdemeanor on the first offense punishable by no more than a year in jail and a Class D felony on the second and subsequent offenses. KRS § 525.135 "Torture" is define as the intentional infliction of or subjection to extreme physical pain or injury, motivated by an intent to increase or prolong the pain of the animal."

Cruelty to animals otherwise is no more than a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to no more than 1 year in jail.  KRS § 525.130 Animal fighting is a Class D felony. KRS § 525.125 punishable by a term in prison of 1-5 years.  

Animal Law Coalition applauds Sen. Buford and Rep. Lee for introducing this bill. It would be a better bill if it also would allow a judge to require a psychiatric evaluation and order recommended treatment for the animal abuser and also ban the convicted abuser from owning, keeping or living with animals.

Studies say animal abusers are likely to commit domestic violence and other violent crimes.

70% of animal abusers were found in one 20 year study to have then committed other crimes, and 44% went on to harm people. (Arluke, A. & Luke, C. 1997).

In another recent study 99% of animal abusers had convictions for other crimes. (Clarke, J. P. 2002). In that same study it was found 100% of people who committed sexual homicide had abused animals. (Clarke, J. P. 2002). That study also revealed 61.5% of animal abusers had assaulted a human as well. (Clarke, J. P. 2002).

63.3% of inmates in one prison study who were in for violent crimes admitted to abusing animals. This doesn’t include the ones who didn’t admit it. (Schiff Louw Ascione, 1999)

Police have found animal abuse is a better predictor of whether someone will commit sexual assault than previous convictions for murder or arson. (Clarke, J. P. 2002).

71% of women in a battered women’s shelter reported their abuser either abused a household pet or threatened to abuse a pet. (Ascione, 1998)

In another study 88% of child abusers also abused the animals in the home. (Ascione)

Animal abuse laws are as much about recognizing the danger to people from animal abusers as these laws are about protecting animals. Help give prosecutors the tools they need to stop animal abusers. The lives of humans as well as animals depend on it.



11 thoughts on “Romeo’s Law Signed by the Governor!”

  1. An educated progressive state fully understands that people who abuse animals are so much more likely to abuse (less powerful) people, specifically women and children. It is obvious to anyone educated that it is in the best interest of this state to enact laws that put an end to this behaviour! It is not only in the best interest of the animals, but in the best interest of women and children as well. And it is when all of society is protected that the well-being of business and commerce will want to progress in this state.

  2. If animals are not safe in your community then neither are it’s people. These laws are a must, but if they’re not enforced, they’re not worth the paper they’re written on.

  3. I left Kentucky largely due to the pervasive and even casual cruelty to animals which struck me as almost incomprehensible. I should have become an activist instead of fleeing. Although I live in another state now, the suffering of all animals in Kentucky, livestock as well as pets, has continued to haunt me. I so hope this law passes or will pass, it is hard to find a definitive date/status on the internet. Gandhi said you can tell a lot about a nation by the way it treats its animals; I think you can tell a lot about a state by the way it treats its animals. I will not forget Kentucky, the state of my ancestors, and I certainly will not forget the animals, now I am far more educated in ways to combat animal abuse.

  4. My husband and I have 30 dogs. I know that’s alot of animals but considering the alternative I think we have made the right choice in saving these animals lives. Kentucky has the worse laws when it comes to protecting animals. We are being persecuted by our neighbors because we have so many dogs but if we don’t protect them then who will???? We have been subjected to verbal and physical abuse by our neighbors. The county attorney would rather drag us through court for suppossed animal neglect than do something about the violence done to us by these people. So maybe you did the right thing by leaving Kentucky, but our fight goes on.

  5. I admire you and your husband for your concern and compassion for the dogs but I’m sure it is overwhelming for you to care for that many dogs!

    Do you have a Humane Society of some type in your area or nearby that could help you with your dog situation and possibly help place some of them in other homes?

    Good Luck & God Bless

  6. let me ask you can you afford to care for all 30 animals? the bottom line is it is better for an animal to be euthanized than to be with some stupid redneck that cant afford to care for them. I am an animal control officer in a mostly rural western kentucky county and to be honest its folks like you who are the root of the problem. How many of you animals are spayed or neutered? “Oh gawd I caint take them to the animal sheeelter they maght be poot to sleeeeeep oh gawd I just cant bear the thought of it.” Grow up people.

  7. Trial set for August, 28, 2009, at the Courthouse Downtown, Somerset, Ky . Thank goodness for Romeos Law, I don’t know what will happen. Dog suffered for nearly 3 days after being posioned, before this man kicked him in the head over, and over, and over and then threw the Dog onto a burn pile. I hope he gets the Book thrown at Him, over, and over, and over!!!!

  8. Out of all people, it is animal control officers that we depend on to love and care for our pets. Who are you to judge whether or not these people have money for 30 dogs? For all you know they could have enough money to pay your crap salary 3 times, and have more land than you can imagine. I am so disgusted that any officer can speak they way you spoke. No wonder you became an animal control officer rather than going to college. Your closed mind and childish judgments would hold you back in any field. Then after your ranting you have the nerve to say grow up!? I would love for you to give out your officer number because if you had balls enough too, you know damn well you asshole remark would leave you jobless and homeless. Being an officer should represent good moral and ethics, which you clearly lack. If those people have saved 30 dogs, then I am glad someone in that ho-dunk state cares enough to do it because we obviously can’t trust the officers to care. It is people like you who make other people think that your job is a mindless joke for incompetent jerk-offs that won’t amount to anything more. I am disgusted that a person who should love and care for animals can say that they are better off euthanize. You do not deserve to have a job other than cleaning toilets you prejudice arrogant schmuck.

  9. I have a close friend that feels exactly the same, although I do not agree. If you are going to “save” all these dogs, why not form your group into like a foster care. Make a website, I’m not sure what you have to do in order to be a professional foster home for dogs, but I’m sure you could talk to your local humane society for the information. That’s the problem with everyone, laziness. If you want to do something, than do something. Hording animals is not the way for them to lead a happy healthy life. Unless you have a crew that takes care of your 30 dogs needs AND wants, than I don’t believe for a second each dog is getting their daily dose of love and affection. You may not beat and abuse your dogs but if you have 30 children do you really think each one would get enough attention or affection. You don’t fool me. Find some good homes for these dogs.

  10. As a citizen of KY, I must say that I am ashamed, appalled, and -utterly disgusted- to hear an officer of animal control speak like you. If you can’t have compassion for the animals who you are supposed to protect and care for, you may as well go flip burgers somewhere.

    I won’t say where I volunteered, but I have volunteered at two different animals shelters and those people had more compassion in their little toes than you do.

    It’s -YOU- who needs to grow up. If you don’t give a crap about your job, go find one you’ll enjoy.

  11. I feel the attitude that it is better to kill something then to make an effort to find a loving and caring situation is just “wrong” thinking. If the only option was a abusive situaton or putting it to sleep, then maybe you could rationalize that kind of thinking but that is not the way to look at things. It all boils down to the attitude of a desire to help or a desire to get rid of the problem. What if we took the same attitude towards unwanted children or old people for that matter. I guess some sick people would take that attitude. We don’t put things to sleep becuase we don’t want to go through the trouble of finding a good situation for it. Its our duty to fix these problems with compassion and love and not this lazifare attude of just get rid of it. Animals require very little to be happy. Food, water, shelter and a little bit of care. Its not a big request they have. Best Friends Society is based on the attitude of caring, not killing animals and they either find a good home or they keep it for life. This person just has their head on backwards because they have the complete wrong attitude to be working in a facilty that should be trying to fix the problem by finding good owners and not by killing animals. Thats my opinion

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