A new website focusing on animal rights launched this week, though the man behind will be familiar to most Alabama advocates and lawmakers.
Pulitzer Prize winner Joey Kennedy and his wife Veronica, a freelance editor and former social media marketer, have launched ALAnimals.com to spotlight animal welfare and protection issues across the state.
Kennedy spent more than 33 years as at the Birmingham News and was on its editorial board from 1989 until early this year.
In a conversation with ALToday.com, Kennedy said the site will be a clearinghouse of information for animal owners and advocates. “Right now there are dozens of great resources out there, but you’ve got to go to each one,” Kennedy said. “We want to bring that all together so a person can go to our site and get what they need.”
One of the site’s major functions will be to spotlight state laws and municipal ordinances concerning treatment of animals and to advocate for stronger protections.
“In Alabama, we don’t have a lot of laws that govern animal abuse,” he said. “We finally got a pretty strong abuse law, though it isn’t aggressively enforced.”
Among the legislation the group will watch at the state level are Rep. Paul Beckman’s House Bill 548 to place restrictions on puppy mills and Rep. Patricia Todd’s House Bill 563 to treat spay and neuter clinics as veterinary facilities.
Kennedy said both proposals sound promising, but may have come too late in the season to be passed this year.
“It sounds like it’s on the right track. It’s a baby step, but it’s a good thing. Sometimes you have to go (through the legislative process) three or four times before it finally clicks. What you have to do is introduce it and start walking it through.”
In his first post for ALAnimals.com, he called the website a continuation of the animal issues journalism he and his wife have both done over the years.
“We have so far to go as a state, on many issues,” Joey Kennedy said. “Animal welfare and protection is among those issues. While we do not have felony laws against animal abuse, many law enforcement officers and prosecutors are slow to make cases, even when the evidence is clear.”
While still writing for the Birmingham News and AL.Com Joey Kennedy frequently used his voice and platform as a strong advocate for animals. He was a constant voice in support of legislation to protect nonprofit spay/neuter clinics.