San Francisco–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.”