Bill protecting against animal abuse passes Senate; goes to Governor

Published 5:45 pm Monday, April 1, 2024

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In early March, a bill that would make it a Class D felony to torture a dog or cat passed through the Kentucky House of Representatives. 

To end the month, it’s taken one significant step closer to being signed into law. 

House Bill 258 passed the Senate by a vote of 31-5-1, and has been sent to the desk of Governor Andy Beshear. 

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Ryan Dotson, a sponsor of HB 258 and Republican member of the Kentucky House of Representatives from the 73rd District, which includes Winchester, responded. 

“HB 258 passed the Senate today and now goes to the Governor’s Desk to be signed into law. This bill protected our precious dogs and cats from abuse,” he said on Facebook. “This bill protects our precious dogs and cats from abuse. I carried the bill last year through [sic] the House and it died in the Senate because of time restraints, but this year my good friend and colleague State Rep .Susan Whitten took the lead and got it across the finish line. We both celebrated together as we took a pic with Ethan[,] our celebrity dog[,] that was rescued from repetitive abuse.” 

Whitten, a Republican, is a Representative of the 31st District in Jefferson County. 

As introduced in the House of Representatives, HB 258 – also named Ethan’s Law after the aforementioned dog – allows people that intentionally torture dogs or cats to be charged with a Class D felony on their first offiense. 

The text states several definitions of torture, such as “the intentional infliction of or subjection to extreme physical pain or serious injury or death to a dog or cat, motivated by intent or wanton disregard that causes, increases, or prolongs the pain or suffering of the dog or cat, including serious physical injury or infirmity.” 

Numerous examples are listed. 

They include chaining or tying down an animal to restrict motion, abandoning them in a building for three days or more without any intention of returning or having made provisions for the animal’s care, sealing the animal in a plastic bag or box, and more. 

The text also mentions actions that wouldn’t constitute torture, including euthanasia as recommended by a veterinarian or breed-specific alterations such as the docking of tails, declawing of a cat, and more as performed by a veterinarian. 

During the course of just over three weeks from the time HB 258 was passed in the House to the time it was passed in the Senate, four floor amendments were introduced and filed. 

Each had to do primarily with the verbiage of the bill or definition of terms. 

While two of the floor amendments were withdrawn, the other two were defeated. 

More information about House Bill 258 can be obtained at