Update: 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.
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.