Kentucky Law Helps At-Risk Horses and Local Communities

April 9, 2015, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a new law designed to protect at-risk stray and free-roaming horses.

A diverse coalition of stakeholders praised the leadership of state lawmakers Rep. Tom McKee and Sen. Robin Webb, the entire Kentucky Legislature, and Gov. Beshear for enacting a measure to reduce the hold period for stray horses from 90 days to 15 days.

This law allows for more positive outcomes for horses and the local communities by significantly shortening the amount of time a stray horse must be held before the animal can be rehomed, and decreasing the high costs for local officials to care for the horses. Prior to the enactment of H.B. 312, Kentucky had the second highest hold period in the country at 90 days.

H.B. 312 was introduced to address a growing population of stray and abandoned horses in rural Kentucky areas that has been increasing at a rate that is not sustainable. Many of these domestic horses have been turned out to survive on their own, something they are ill-equipped for, resulting in horses migrating onto roadways and private properties in search of food, creating public safety problems. The lengthy stray hold period has been a deterrent to communities, individuals, and groups who step in to care for these horses, which can cost them thousands of dollars in unbudgeted expenditures.

This commonsense solution is supported by a diverse group of individuals and organizations, including the following:

• American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
• Kentucky Animal Care & Control Association
• Kentucky Association of Counties
• Kentucky County Judge Executives Association
• Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Office of the State Veterinarian
• Kentucky Equine Education Project
• Kentucky Equine Health & Welfare Council
• Kentucky Farm Bureau
• Kentucky Horse Council
• Kentucky Humane Society
• Kentucky Equine Humane Center
• United Global Co-Opportunities
• We Make Things Happen

“The passage of House Bill 312 is a critical achievement for the Commonwealth of Kentucky that will eliminate the legal barriers that have long been in place, preventing the stray horses from receiving dependable feed and shelter and finding permanent homes,” said the coalition in a joint statement. “We are grateful to Representative McKee and Senator Webb, who championed this bill, and to Governor Beshear for quickly signing it into law to expedite the legal process and ensure these at-risk horses have a better chance at finding permanent homes by receiving care more quickly.”

“With this new law, the Kentucky Humane Society and other rescue organizations will be able to save more at-risk horses, rehabilitate them and find them new homes,” said Lori Kane Redmon, President & CEO of the Kentucky Humane Society. 

The new law will not impact the hold times of any other species of animal, nor will it infringe upon or limit the rights of responsible horse owners.

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