Ballard County, Ky. couple face animal abuse charges

Members of an animal rescue group in Ballard County, Kentucky give an update on 29 cats put into their care last week
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:20 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:19 PM CST
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BALLARD COUNTY, Ky. (KFVS) - Members of an animal rescue group in Ballard County, Kentucky gave an update Wednesday, November 15 on 29 cats put into their care.

All of those cats came from one couple in Kevil, Kentucky.

Police arrested 24-year-old Leah Cowen and 23-year-old Matthew Cowen on November 7. They are each charged with 29 counts of torturing a cat with serious physical injury or death.

Those cats are now at Jackson Purchase Forgotten Felines, which is also in Ballard County. People from that shelter say they were called Tuesday night and couldn’t believe it when they got there.

“It was just, I can’t even. I don’t even have words for it, it was just that bad,” Michael Graves said.

He and his wife Ange head up JP Forgotten Felines. They got a call from Ballard County sheriff’s deputies asking them to take in several abused cats. He said they immediately went to the scene.

“The smells that were coming from the residence were just, it was bad,” Graves said. “They had to open up the windows, they literally had to put on suits to be able to go into the home, hazmat suits.”

Since last week, he said five more of those cats have died. One had to be put down due to severe illness.

“She had the means to make sure that these cats were healthy, and she just totally neglected every single one of them,” Graves said.

Ballard County Animal Control took to Facebook to find anyone who had donated to the Cowens or their shelter, Meows of Hope.

They said they’re working to get justice for the cats and donors who were trying to help.

“People have been donating, like, now a lot of money, like a ton of money to her,” Victoria Conroy said.

“The first two were $150 a piece and then the last one I only sent $50,″ Charles Hunt said.

Victoria Conroy and Charles Hunt are both members of a Facebook group for cat lovers around the country with nearly 60,000 members.

Both of them also donated to Meows of Hope.

“Sometimes you’ll get different rescues that’ll post, needing help with funding,” Hunt said.

They shared screenshots of posts from Meows of Hope in that group, Tatertot and his Spudbuds, asking for donations.

“I donated money to something that I thought was helping and you were doing the exact opposite,” Olivia Marvel said. Marvel is also a member of the popular Facebook group and also donated money to Meows of Hope.

They all say they’re unsure where their money went.

And Graves said it could hurt donations to other animal rescues in the future.

“Unfortunately, with a situation like this it kind of hurts the community’s trust,” Graves said.

But he said their number one priority is the cats.

“We are trying to get them medications and to the animal clinics and that’s a lot,” he said.

The Ballard County sheriff said the investigation is ongoing, and the attorney general has been called in to assist in the investigation.