The Collins family of Melvin, Kentucky (that’s Floyd County) loves Kitty and ain’t a-gonna give him up. "He’s not bothering nobody," says Barry Collins. But the Hall family does not like Kitty. "I think [Kitty] needs to be in a different environment," said Pauline Hall, who lives a few houses away. "Everybody here keeps their guns loaded."
Oh — "Kitty" is a 450-pound lion. I should have said.
Barry Collins bought Kitty as a cub at a flea market (I guess you really can get anything at those flea markets) about three years ago. Kitty was only five pounds then, and probably oh so cute. He is now ninety times bigger, hence the concerns of other residents. But Mr. Collins insisted that Kitty was not dangerous and that he did not feel Kitty was a threat to his children, though they are all still at their tastiest, aged 1, 3, and 5.
County attorney Keith Bartley said that he shares the concerns but that Kitty appears to be legal. Mr. Collins got a permit to bring the lion into the state in the first place and has a license to keep it. There is now a state regulation that prohibits transporting "inherently dangerous" animals, a category that includes lions, but that rule was not in effect when Kitty was brought to Floyd County and does not apply retroactively. So opponents are sponsoring a county ordinance as the only way to remove Kitty the Lion from the county.
Collins claims that he bought Kitty to rescue him from poor conditions at the flea market, which sounds reasonable except that Kitty is currently housed in a 300-square-foot chain-link cage. Which I’m sure is very well constructed to prevent the escape of a 450-pound lion that is almost certainly being constantly taunted by plump, succulent children aged 1, 3, and 5.