Ethan’s Law passed by Kentucky legislature 

Kentucky Lantern

FRANKFORT — Celebrity dog Ethan was in the Kentucky Capitol Tuesday to see senators pass a bill named after him, which would allow a person to be charged with a felony the first time they torture a dog or cat. 

House Bill 258 is now nearly law, having passed the Senate 31-5 with one member passing. Named Ethan’s Law, it now heads to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk for a signature or veto. 

Ethan, who won hearts over as he recovered from severe neglect in 2021, lent his face to the bill and came several times to Frankfort to testify in favor of it

The bill defines torture 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.” 

Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, said Ethan’s Law “puts my cultural heritage and relationship with my dogs at risk.” 

Further, she said the bill wasn’t needed. 

“Kentucky, contrary to popular extremist rhetoric, has animal abuse laws,” Webb, who voted against the bill, said. And “any good prosecutor” can bring a case based on that current law, she said. 

Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg, agreed. 

“I have not seen a single dog story … that are not already protected by the current law,” she said. 

Louisville Republican and Majority Caucus Chair Sen. Julie Raque Adams, who brought the House bill to the Senate floor, said would protect good pet owners, hunters, farmers, “respectable breeders” and trainers. 

She also cited research showing people who abuse animals are likely to go on and harm people. 

“Abusers have the propensity to escalate and to continue their criminal behavior,” Raque Adams said. “And with no deterrent or accountability, most will do so.”

Ethan, a rescue dog, listens as Rep. Susan Witten, R-Louisville, (right) and his owner, Jeff Callaway of Louisville, discuss House Bill 258, an act related to the torture of a dog or cat. The testimony was part of the House Judiciary Committee meeting , Feb. 21, 2024. (LRC Public Information)

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