In response to public outcry of a videotaped beating of a Labrador Retriever, Romeo- on April 16, 2008 Kentucky passed S.B. 58 (dubbed Romeo’s law) which amended § 525.135 to state that the “torture of a dog or cat is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class D felony for each subsequent offense if the dog or cat suffers physical injury as a result of the torture, and a Class D felony if the dog or cat suffers serious physical injury or death as a result of the torture.”
According to the ALDF website- attorneys have prosecuted the first successful case under this law- resulting in a felony conviction of a man who stabbed two cats to death. The article regarding the case can be found here.
Most states have laws on their books labeling animal cruelty a felony (here is a list of which states label animal cruelty a felony, but note that the laws only protect certain animals and exclude large classes of activities, such as hunting.) Until this law passed, Kentucky, a state that has a reputation for being notoriously lax in regard to animal abuse, was one of the holdout states that penalized animal cruelty with only misdemeanor charges. In that respect, this law is a step in the right direction.
One has to consider, however, why the law provides no protection to animals besides cats and dogs- and why the law provides only misdemeanor charges for the first offense if no serious physical injury has occurred. Apparently the Kentucky legislature thought those were questions for another day, and we can only hope they are addressed in the future.