Report: Best And Worst US States For Animal Protection Laws

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
Over the last five years, over three quarters of the United States and territories have improved the strength of animal protection laws. A new report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund has ranked states based on their laws and the punishments for breaking them.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has released it’s 11th annual report that ranks the animal protection laws of the 50 states and for the ninth year in a row, Illinois is the front-runner in strong laws that protect and defend animals, followed closely by Oregon, Maine, California and Rhode Island. This is the first year that Rhode Island has been included in the top tier of states with strong protection laws.

The five states with the worst animal protection laws include North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and Iowa, with Kentucky ranking at the bottom–a place it has maintained for the last 9 years.

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Wisconsin gained recognition as the most-improved state on the list, with the passing of a law that only 25 other states have–a comprehensive cost-of-care law that requires an animal cruelty offender to reimburse a care-giving agencey for the costs of care of the abused animal before the case is heard. Only 16 states require the reimbursement for care costs before or irrespective of a criminal conviction.

Additionally, Michigan and Wisconsin passed laws that allow pets to also be covered by restraining or protective orders in domestic violence situations, while Tennessee created the first statewide registry (similar to one for sexual offenders) of convicted animal abusers.

Related: Logan’s Law Will Mandate Animal Abusers Registry, Tougher Penalties

Idaho enacted new ranking for convictions involving the torturing of a companion animal, making the offense a felony, and Maryland and Pennsylvania got tougher on laws about those who were caught and convicted of having paraphernalia related to animal fighting of any kind.

And while Kentucky did show effort to lose its bottom-of-the-barrel status in strengthening laws, the Animal Legal Defense Fund did not find the progress to be substantial enough to change its ranking on the list. Executive Director of the fund Stephen Wells said that while they are glad that laws regarding animal protection seem to be trending in a stronger way, there is still much room for improvement in animal protection, and Americans seeing where their state falls on the ranking can use that information to help continue to improve the laws that benefit the protection of all animals.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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