7 year-old-Frankfort boy behind shelter pet bill

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — A bill was filed in the Kentucky legislature to make shelter pets the ‘official pets of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’.

The inspiration behind it is a seven-year-old boy from Frankfort.

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“I said ‘I think people will be more inclined to get shelter pets if they were the state pet of Kentucky’,” says Ethan Branscum, an animal lover who inspired House Bill 27 that would make shelter pets the state pet.

“I want to be a voice for the animals because they can’t use their voices,” says Ethan.

Ethan was inspired by a humane society commercial showing the conditions shelter pets live in.

“I didn’t like that they were living like that,” says Ethan.

But it’s the sad reality for Kentucky shelters.

“We operate at near capacity almost year round now,” says Kerry Lowary, shelter manager at the Franklin County Humane Society.

So Ethan took it up with his Representative, Democrat Joe Graviss, by sending a letter telling him what he wanted done.

“What this is trying to do is it’s trying to decrease the amount of animals that are in the shelters and increase the amount that are in good homes,” says Ethan.

Ethan testified at the House Committee hearing.

“I got a unanimous vote and lots of comments,” says Ethan.

It then passed the House overwhelmingly.

“Everybody loved it. People were casting their votes in honor of the shelter pet that was at home,” says Representative Joe Graviss of Versailles.

Ethan and the Franklin County Humane Society are hopeful shelter pets will be the next state pet.

“They deserve a chance to be in the spotlight really so this is exciting,” says Lowary.

Now if it doesn’t pass… “Next year I’d try again and over and over and over until it gets passed,” says Ethan.

Graviss says the message goes deeper than just adopting shelter pets.

“This is a fun first step but there are some other bills we filed that are very serious steps that we can take to get us out the basement of the rankings for taking care of animals,” says Graviss.

Kentucky ranks last in the nation for animal protection, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Legislatively, this can be a complex issue but not through the innocent eyes of a little boy with a big heart.

“And I think they should be treated just like we would like to be treated,” says Ethan.

Graviss asked Republican Representative Kevin Bratcher to sponsor the bill since it would have a better a chance in the GOP-controlled chamber.

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