Where Animal Abusers Get Off Easy in US

By isak, December 22, 2010


Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho, Mississippi and Iowa are the five best states in the country to be an animal abuser, according to a new report released today by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Based on a detailed comparative analysis of more than 4,000 pages of statutes, tracking fourteen broad categories of provisions, the report recognizes the states where animal law has real teeth, and calls out those like Kentucky — the single worst in the nation for animal protection laws for the fourth year running — where animal abusers get off easy. ALDF’s fifth annual state rankings report, the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, ranks all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories for the general comprehensiveness and relative strength of their respective animal protection laws.

Why are these five states in the dog house when it comes to getting tough on animal abuse? The legislative weaknesses seen in the states at the bottom of the animal protection barrel include severely restricted or absent felony animal cruelty provisions, inadequate animal fighting provisions, and lack of restrictions on the future ownership of animals for those convicted of cruelty to animals.

On the other end of the spectrum, this year’s “best five for animals” list remains unchanged from 2009, with Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon and California demonstrating through their laws the strongest commitment to combating animal cruelty; for the fourth consecutive year, Illinois was the very best of the best for the strength of its laws protecting animals. Alaska showed the most improvement, moving from 44th last year to 37th overall this year. West Virginia, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Arizona all improved their standings due, in part, to the adoption of laws that allow animals to be included in domestic violence protective orders.

“While many states continue to make positive progress for animals, there are, unfortunately, still many places where the laws are incapable of providing the legal protections that our country’s animals need and deserve,” says Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund’s director of legislative affairs and author of the report. “Even in those jurisdictions that have today’s best laws, there remain many opportunities for improvement. Animals do not vote — but those who love them do. We encourage lawmakers throughout the country to take heed and commit to working to improve these critical laws.”

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, including a copy of the state rankings report and a free downloadable version of the complete compendium of state anti-cruelty laws (US and Canada) on which the report is based, please visit www.aldf.org.

2010 State Animal Protection Laws Rankings
Comparing Overall Strength & Comprehensiveness

Best Five 1. Illinois, 2. Maine, 3. Michigan, 4. Oregon, 5. California
Worst Five 46. Iowa, 47. Mississippi, 48. Idaho, 49. North Dakota, 50. Kentucky

Top Tier 1. Illinois, 2. Maine, 3. Michigan, 4. Oregon, 5. California, 6. Kansas, 7. Indiana, 8. Tennessee, 9. West Virginia, 10. Vermont, 11. Minnesota, 12. Washington, 13. Massachusetts, 14. Rhode Island, 15. Colorado, 16. Virginia, 17. Nebraska, 18. Wisconsin, 19. Louisiana
Middle Tier 20. Delaware, 21. Oklahoma, 22. Florida, 23. District Of Columbia, 24. Puerto Rico, 25. New Hampshire, 26. Arkansas, 27. Virgin Islands, 28. Nevada, 29. Ohio, 30. Arizona, 31. North Carolina, 32. Missouri, 33. New York, 34. Texas, 35. Connecticut, 36. Georgia, 37. Utah, 38. South Carolina
Bottom Tier 39. Alaska, 40. Montana, 41. Pennsylvania, 42. Wyoming, 43. Maryland, 44. Alabama, 45. New Mexico, 46. Hawaii, 47. New Jersey, 48. South Dakota, 49. Iowa, 50. Mississippi, 51. Idaho, 52. Guam, 53. North Dakota, 54. Kentucky, 55. Northern Mariana Islands, 56. American Samoa

Note: The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and other territories are included in this report and are italicized. The Best Five and Worst Five categories are limited to states.

2010 State Animal Protection Laws Rankings Maps
PDF, Black & White | Download Map
PDF, Color | Download Map
JPG, Black & White, 150 dpi | Download Map
JPG, Color, 150 dpi | Download Map

Annual Animal Protection Laws Rankings Reports
United States: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010
Canada: 2008 | 2009 | 2010

One Comment

  1. Kyla Duffy says:

    Thanks for sharing this important information. Do you have any resources on what people can do if they want to help create change? At least MO just got a little better (maybe?) with the passage of Prop B. I wish we had better federal laws protecting animals.

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