By Anna Vallery
Each year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund publishes a list ranking U.S. states in order of how awesome their animal protection laws are. Thankfully, we are living in a time where animals are gaining more rights and better protection from abuse and neglect. The ALDF‘s 2014 list not only let’s us see which states are the best and worst, but also any changes and successes states have made regarding animal protection in that last year.
This ranking report takes into account the strength of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws by examining over 4,000 pages of statutes. Based off this information, each state receives a raw score based on 15 different categories in animal protection. Many states have been moving around on the last in the past year thanks to new laws protecting their animals. Rhode Island, for example, enacted a Reckless Endangerment provision that specifies “dogs in hot cars” as victims. This list gives us the best and worst states for animal protection. Here is that list and the reasons why they ranked where they are.
5 Best States
Illinois holds its position as the state with the best animal protection laws. Illinois has felony penalties for cruelty, neglect, fighting, abandonment and sexual assault. This state also has has increased penalties for repeat offenders and can require forfeiture of animals pre-conviction.
Maine took second place this year after passing it’s reckless endangerment law and prohibition on breed-specific legislation. Maine also has felony penalties for cruelty, neglect, fighting, abandonment and sexual assault.
Oregon makes the list again with felony penalties for cruelty, neglect and fighting. Oregon also has increased penalties for cases involving multiple animals and added felonies for repeated or aggravated animal neglect.
California moved up on the list this year. They have felony penalties for cruelty, neglect and fighting as well as mandatory forfeiture of animals on conviction. Hopefully in coming years, they will increase penalties for cases involving multiple animals as well as implement felony penalties for abandonment and sexual assault.
Michigan strengthened their existing felony animal cruelty laws this year. They have felony penalties for cruelty, neglect, fighting, abandonment and sexual assault and increased penalties for repeat animal abusers.
5 Worst States
Kentucky as the worst state in the U.S. concerning animal protection laws. Felony provisions are available only for cruelty and fighting in Kentucky, both against only select animals. There are no felony provisions for neglect or abandonment and no court-ordered forfeiture provisions. Veterinarians are even prohibited from reporting suspected cruelty or fighting.
Ag-gag laws in Iowa make it impossible for the public to see terrible condition farms animals must face. Felony provisions available in Iowa cover only cruelty against select animals and fighting. There are no felony neglect or abandonment provisions and no mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction.
3. New Mexico
New Mexico has felony provisions available for only cruelty and fighting against select animals. It has inadequate felony provisions for neglect and none for animal abandonment.
Utah is another state with ag-gag laws in place. Felony provisions in Utah are available only for cruelty against select animals. There are no felony provisions for neglect, abandonment, or fighting of animals.
Wyoming only has felony provision for cruelty and fighting, and that is only in select animals. There are no felony neglect or abandonment provisions in place in Wyoming and there are no mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction.
You Can Help
Though many states are making amazing changes to their legislation to increase to protection of animals, we still see many states stuck with outdated methods of prosecuting animal abuse and neglect. The ALDF is working hard to make changes in states to increase the protection of our animals. Stay involved in your local elections and up to date on potential laws regarding animal protection. It is up to us to make the world a better place for our animals.