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The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence.
Just ask Carl Joseph, a Spencer transplant, who owns about 5 acres near Mt. Eden. He alleges his neighbor’s cows especially notice the “greenness” of his grass – and often escape to graze and cause destruction in his yard.
“I have been woken up on several occasions with the cattle at my bedroom window bellowing and mooing,” Joseph wrote in a letter to his neighbor, filed in Spencer County District Court earlier this year.
In court records, Joseph claimed his neighbor’s cows have trampled his garden – and his wife’s flowers – destroyed a $300 deer feeder and devoured nearly 200 pounds of corn feed. Joseph claims his truck was damaged after he was forced to hit a ditch to avoid hitting his neighbor’s loose heifer.
“The cow was standing broadside in the middle of the road,” he said. “I’m not just appalled, I’m angry.”
Joseph is more soured by the court ruling that rendered him “helpless.” A Spencer County judge dismissed the criminal-mischief complaint Joseph filed against his neighbor after the judge arranged a plea agreement with the defendant. The judge further ruled he could appeal the matter in civil court. But that could become costly and complicated, especially since Joseph is a disabled veteran and says he lives on a limited income.
“I can’t even afford the $35 to file [court costs],” he said. “As a victim I have no rights.”
Joseph’s complaints aren’t uncommon.
Dispatchers are commonly overheard on scanners, directing law enforcement and other agencies to the scene of loose livestock. Last Tuesday, a horse was causing a ruckus somewhere in Spencer County, according to reports overheard on the Spencer Magnet’s office scanner. Officials were able to capture the horse and return it to its owner without incident.
Treasure Bryant, office manager for the county attorney’s office says she tackles about three to five calls a week concerning loose animals. Complaints have unofficially been deferred to that office, she said, because the county has no animal control office.
“It seems to be an ongoing problem,” Bryant said of stray livestock. “And it’s various people It’s not just one person’s problem.”
The office reportedly handled three calls of a loose pig on Friday.
“I’ve never had a hog call before that,” she said.
Most of the time, animals escape because of a downed fence.
Kentucky livestock laws require farmers to maintain a “strong and sound” fence around their properties. Law enforcement agencies are vested with the power to retain loose livestock, under those laws. Subsequent costs for the storage, handling or extradition of the livestock is the responsibility of the animal’s owner, as outlined by Kentucky Revised Statutes.
The problem with those laws? Some date back to 1942, Bryant says, and it’s admittedly hard for law enforcement officers to detain loose livestock without trailers and the proper equipment.
But Joseph maintains the “law is the law” and thinks Kentucky statutes need to be enforced.
And if the courts aren’t prepared to enforce those laws, he says he’ll be forced to take the matter into his own hands.
“I have the right to live peacefully,” Joseph said. “I’ve tried the courts, I’ve tried the laws, I’ve tried to follow them. I’m going to be very firm on this. When the cows come back in my yard, I’m going to start killing them.”