The great state of Kentucky could be looking to improve their equine welfare laws in order to better handle critical situations. The discussion has obviously been fueled by the recent developments in the Maria and Chuck Borell case, where the father-daughter pairing left over forty horses abandoned at their farm. A committee in Frankfort, Kentucky has approved to examine these laws via unanimous decision.
Rusty Ford chaired the committee meeting, which was observed by state deputy veterinarian Bradley Keough. “Where it’s not clear in the statute is what I can do with that animal,” Keough pointed out. “Initially it was unclear if we could seize them, take them, what we could do. I think if it was more clear-cut to that county attorney that, ‘Yes if you have the Department of Agriculture determining the horses are abandoned, then this law says you can go to the judge and get ownership relinquished immediately so that you can do something with them without repercussions and potential civil liability.’ ”
The difficulty in dealing with these cases is essentially based on the size of the animals, which can have major impacts on the cost of equine welfare. “Going forward I think, yes, there is consideration for change in statute, maybe even developing more regulations,” noted Bob Stout, another member of the council. “Some things that have been discussed are a facilitation for confiscation of animals thought to be in danger or proven to be in danger. If local authorities confiscate an animal, now what do they do with it? Especially in the case of large animals, especially horses.”
The Kentucky department of agriculture ultimately has the say in how the proceedings for equine welfare go, and the current commissioner of that department had some important notes for the meeting as well. “We look to play a more active role with the signature industry in Kentucky, all breeds,” Ryan Quarles of the department of agriculture stated. “There was an unfortunate incident that more or less brought this group together to talk about allegations in Central Kentucky. We may need some guidance on how we can better address this in the future.
“Our top priority when we do get a call at the Department of Ag like this one that rises to this level is the welfare of the animals involved. We will more than likely have to consider some policy changes, and I look forward to the council’s input as we respond to an incident that no one wants to see.”