Commonwealth Journal

Local News

April 18, 2008

Romeo's Law is passed

Somerset — “I think it is a step in the right direction for the State of Kentucky.”

Those were the words of Courtney Girdler, who is a board member of the Pulaski County Humane Society, about the passage of the amended Romeo’s Law.

Romeo, a Yellow Labrador, was caught on tape being attacked, and, following the Pulaski County criminal case which caught state-wide attention, legislators brought a bill named after Romeo to this year’s legislative session to make crimes against animals have harsher punishments.

The bill initially would have changed all crimes of animal cruelty to a Class D felony, from a class A misdemeanor. However, the bill which passed in the last few minutes of this year’s legislative session was revised so the penalty would be a class A misdemeanor if a dog or cat suffers physical injury as a result of the offense and a class D felony if a dog or cat suffers serious physical injury or death as a result of the offense. The bill also requires forfeiture of ownership of the animals and restricts future ownership of animals in cruelty and torture cases.

The bill — SB-58 — passed 92-0 in the house and 31-2 in the senate Tuesday evening.

“Although it wasn’t exactly the original (bill), I do feel that it is a start,” said Girdler. “It definitely should make people think before they abuse an animal. ... I don’t think (the bill) is so watered down that (it) won’t matter.”

Representative Jimmy Higdon said though he missed the vote, he had received a lot of calls from people in favor of the bill.

However, Higdon noted, the compromise was made after a lot of opposition from hunting groups who had concerns with the bill. Higdon said he had some concerns about the original bill after several people spoke to him about it, but he believes with the revisions the bill ended up being a pretty good one.

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