Spencer Co. kennel owner won't be charged
TAYLORSVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Pictures of alleged animal abuse in Spencer County are making the rounds on the internet. But county officials are standing by their decision not to charge the owner.
The photos show dogs chained up outside in frigid temperatures, kennel floors covered in ice and water dishes frozen over.
The images have gained so much attention, an online petition to shut the breeder down has nearly 3,000 signatures in only a few days.
But the person those thousands are trying to convince -- Spencer County Judge Executive Bill Karrer -- says the breeder has done nothing wrong.
"I don't see any animals up there whose lives seem to be in danger," said Karrer. "I did not see the filthiness that people were trying to portray, it just wasn't there."
Karrer says he visited breeder Laura Pope last week, and again Monday, and believes the photos are some what disingenuous.
"Here's this frozen dish, yeah but right next to that dish was a dish of heated water that wasn't frozen. So that was unfair to be singled out that way."
He also said although adult dogs were kept outside, they all appeared to have access to shelter and puppies were kept in heated kennels.
"Puppies are in igloos with heat lamps--and in some cases even have heat pads."
The petition describes dogs "in filth and soaked in urine, their own feces, and even blood from fights."
It also vividly describes the scene as you enter Pope's property.
"Dogs upon dogs line both the left and right side of the gravel road. Big dogs chained with heavy metal chains, poor constructed shelters made from wooden pallets, tin roofing on some, and buckets of solid frozen water. It's not hard to tell the dogs have been here for quite some time. Giant wear marks in the ground recount the dog's footsteps as they have paced back and forth, back and forth. No grass beneath their feet. Only mud, snow, and ice."
But animal control says, from what they see, Pope isn't breaking any laws.
"Myself, I think there are too many dogs," said Nolan Bryant with K-9 Rescue and Enforcement. "But there is nothing the county says that she can't have that many dogs."
And Pope is no stranger to the law. According to court records, she was convicted on one count of animal cruelty in 2004. The conviction came after a judge allowed Pope to take an Alford plea on 95 charges of animal cruelty in the second degree.
Because of that, Bryant said he put a pending kennel license on hold once complaints started rolling in.
"Once all this came up, with the issue that happened ten years ago, we wanted to proceed with caution, make sure what we were doing was correct," said Bryant.
He has yet to cash her check for the kennel license, and said they will continue to investigate. But at this time, it is likely she will get her license renewed because county officials don't believe she is in violation of county ordinance.
"What it boils down to for us, is not what I think or like, but what's legal," said Karrer.
Current Spencer County ordinances do not put a limit on the number of dogs one can possess.
Although it does rule against tying dogs up for over ten hours a day, Karrer admitted that ordinance is almost impossible to enforce.
"For me to know that, I would have to monitor it for 24 hours or better. And that becomes unenforceable," said Karrer.
Karrer added that the city continues to watch the situation closely.
"It's not a dead issue, we will continue to monitor and investigate the situation," said Karrer.
Spencer County officials aren't the only ones "okay" with Pope's breeding practices. Just this past September, the American Kennel Club found her in compliance with organization standards.
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