Kay Simpson: The Advocate for the Animals

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 29, 2010 12:00 am  

Kay Simpson is among the leading defenders of animals in Arkansas.

Simpson, the director of the Humane Society of Pulaski County in Little Rock, has been fighting for the protection of animals for nearly two decades.

Simpson also lobbied for the state's first felony animal cruelty law in 2009, which made aggravated cruelty to dogs, cats or horses a felony.

"The highest point of my life was the day that Gov. [Mike] Beebe signed that bill and put it into law," Simpson, 60, said.

She also is one of three certified animal cruelty investigators in Arkansas.

Since 1994, Simpson has worked in more than 20 counties investigating animal abuse cases and has received more than 80 convictions. "We've not lost a case yet," Simpson said.

Simpson's love for animals goes back to her childhood. "I know people say that a lot," Simpson said. "But when I was a child, all the way growing up, I've just had a thing for animals."

After being a bartender for more than 20 years, Simpson started working at the Humane Society's shelter cleaning up after the dogs.

Soon she was promoted to the adoption desk, and when the abuse investigator position opened in 1994, Simpson took it. "I just felt like I hit my niche there," she said. "I started doing the animal cruelty [investigations] back then and have been doing it ever since."

After seeing animals starved, beaten or dragged by vehicles, Simpson said, she realized the animal abuse laws weren't strong enough. "It's just beyond any reason" what people will do to animals, she said.

At the time, the worst punishment an animal abuser could receive was a year in jail and a $1,000 fine because purposely injuring an animal was considered only a misdemeanor.

Simpson fought to strengthen the laws and testified before Arkansas legislators. But the laws didn't change. Some farmers and ranchers were opposed to animal cruelty legislation.



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