Lexington sees rise in animal cruelty cases as cold weather sets in

WATCH | Animal care sees increase in abuse cases during winter
Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 10:26 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control says it has seen a concerning increase in animal abuse and neglect cases throughout the county this year.

“This week already, we’ve removed three dogs from homes because they didn’t have proper shelters, some of them were shivering, some of them didn’t have water,” said animal cruelty investigator Jai Hamilton.

A dog left exposed to the elements during significant snowfall and a malnourished horse struggling to survive after an ice storm.

“The owner had taken no initiative to get it care prior to it becoming emaciated,” Hamilton said. “It fell over, it was laying on this cold ground and it couldn’t get up again.”

Two examples from earlier this year which underscore a concerning trend of animal cruelty amid freezing temperatures in Fayette County.

Two cases where Hamilton charged their owners for violating city ordinances.

But those owners didn’t face consequences in the judicial system.

“Both of those cases were dismissed, unfortunately,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton has been with Lexington Fayette Animal Care and Control for 13 years and says she’s seen more abuse and neglect cases in 2022 than any other.

While it’s hard to say what could be causing that, Hamilton believes the pandemic could have played a part.

“There’s definitely been an uptick in people who were adopting when the pandemic started,” Hamilton said. “Now that it’s over and we’re back to work, people are bringing them to the shelters. They’re surrendering them, they’re dumping them, they’re letting them loose to roam.”

So she is urging Lexington’s pet owners to take responsibility and care for them as wintry weather settles in.

“There’s no reason to leave your dog out in 22-degree weather in the middle of a snowstorm,” said Hamilton. “That’s animal cruelty.”

If your pet has to stay outside this winter, Hamilton says it must be properly sheltered and tethered - and it must have access to drinkable water.

Hamilton says their department will also loan out crates to pet owners who need them, so that they can bring their animals in out of the cold.