By Carrie Dillard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
“An animal has rights,” said Jamie Medlin, founder of Justice For Abused Animals (JFAA).
Since August, Medlin and other volunteers with the local animal rights organization have been working to end animal abuse and cruelty in Laurel and surrounding counties.
"Our shelters are too overrun. Animals are being put down, too much, too soon. That can be stopped with stricter laws in the county,” Medlin said.
Supporters rally together at court cases in Knox, Whitley and Laurel counties. The largest group to ever appear in court together was about 22 people.
"We are for justice for animals; we are their voice in court," she explained.
A life-long animal lover, Medlin first started the group after she saw a neighbor dog in poor condition.
"I reported it to the Laurel County Sheriff's Office," she said. "I can't go onto someone's property. I don't have the license to do that. I can call the law."
Since August, JFAA has rescued six dogs from court cases, cared for one hit and run dog, and two other dogs were surrendered into their care before charges could be filed against the pet owner.
Animals seized by law enforcement after charges have been filed against their owners cannot be adopted until the court case is over, or if the owner surrenders his rights to the animal.
"We don't want to be a nuisance to law enforcement. We just want to save the animal,” she said. And, ultimately find them a good home.
"I'd rather people be able to keep their animals," Medlin said, "but they need to take care of them."
JFAA works with Fur Ever Friends to find forever, loving homes for the mistreated animals. They hope to raise awareness of animal abuse and make pet owners to think twice about the consequences.
"I didn't know Jamie before August," said Rhonda Rains, a JFAA volunteer. "It just takes one person to stand up and take the initiative.
"Everyone can do a little something," Rains continued. "I'm so thankful she (Jamie) had the courage to step up. Animals, children and the elderly depend on other people."
"It (this movement) starts somewhere and gets bigger," Medlin said. "I don't want it pushed under the rug. Regardless if I'm the only one to show up for court, I'll be there.
"We want to show the abusers that they have to stop. People will maybe think twice."
Medlin currently has nine dogs, four cats and two goats of her own. She knows she can't possibly save every animal.
"But if I'm going to court for their rights, I'm going to care for them,” she said. “I can't foster them all, though. I need help."
A new non-profit, JFAA is seeking to build their general fund in order to pay for food or veterinary fees for the rescued animals as the needs arise.
"Many of the foster homes will provide food, but we can also help with that or with vet fees. But we can only do that with funding."
JFAA hopes to raise $2,000 before the end of the year. They are only about a quarter of the way there.
"All of the money goes to the animals, for their care."
JFAA strives to be transparent in the way they spend their money.
"I've posted breakdowns of medical bills (for rescued dogs) on our Facebook page," Medlin said, "to show this is where the money is going.
“This is not just about me. We want the community to pull together with us. If you like our page (Justice for abused animals), comment, make donations, you are involved," Medlin said. "If you see it (abuse), video it, take pictures.
“Animals can be saved."
To contribute to JFAA, send funds to P.O. Box 898, Corbin, Ky., 40702.