2009 Five Best and Worst States for Animal Abuse

The Animal Legal Defense Fund released its fourth annual report about animal abuse.  The report ranks the strength of animal protection laws in every state and U.S. territory. 


This year the five states with the least amount of protection for animals are: Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota.   Kentucky ranked as the number one worst state in the nation – where animal abusers received the lightest convictions.


The top five states with the most stringent sentencing for abusers and the toughest laws to protect animals were: Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon and California. 


Stephen Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund director of legislative affairs, was pleased with the progress that a number of states have made in 2009. “Many states and territories are continuing to make substantial progress with their animal protection laws.  Arkansas, for example, was one of the worst five states last year, but jumped up to 25th overall in the country this year, due to a host of statutory improvements,” Otto said.


“Washington D.C. and Indiana, among others, also made significant advances.  Unfortunately, there are still many places where the laws are incapable of providing the legal protection that our country’s animals need and deserve,” stated Otto.


He continued by reminding states, “Yet even in those jurisdictions that have today’s best laws, there remain many opportunities for improvement.  While animals certainly do not vote, those who love and care about them do, so we encourage lawmakers throughout the country to take heed and commit to working to improve these critical laws.”


The Animal Protection Report ranks states in three tiers – Top, Middle and Bottom.  See where your state stands on protecting animals from abuse.


Top Tier: CA, CO, DE, IL, IN, KS, ME, MA, MI, MN, NE, OR, RI, TN, WA, WV, WI, VT and VA.


Middle Tier: AZ, AR, CT, DC, FL, GA, LA, MO, MT, NH, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, Puerto Rico, SC, UT and Virgin Islands.


Bottom Tier: AL, AK, American Samoa, Guam, HI, ID, IA, KY, MD, MS, NV, NJ, NM, ND, Northern Mariana Islands, SD, TX and WY.


Animal Legal Defense Fund


Julia R.
Julia R5 years ago

It is such a pity that so many states don't have tougher laws to punish animal abusers! I was surprised to see so many states in the middle and especially the bottom tier! What people need to understand is the strong connection between those who commit cruelty to animals frequently go on to commit violent crimes to people! So, if you want a society which has less crime, gives people greater peace of mind about not being so victimized by crime and a place where you feel safer than you should support laws and politicians who support tougher laws for people who commit animal cruelty including jail time.

Tomoko Harris
Tomoko Harris8 years ago

Kudos to those states that are on top! Now let us hope that Georgia can get into the upper tier.

Linda M.
Linda M8 years ago

thanks for the post

Margaret C.
Margaret C8 years ago

I sure wish more states would have tougher sentencing for animal abusers. When I hear some of the sentences for animal abusers, it makes one want to have the old vigilantes around, but that is just a strong feeling, some people might have if it was one of your beloved companions, babies, or pets who suffered from abuse. With the Miami-Dade, Florida area having horses butchered and having their remains left on the roadside, so sad the police or any other people won't come forward with any information about this happening. But even more sad and sickening is what type of sentence that person might get.

Jackie Wells
Jackie W8 years ago

Sorry to disagree but Va should not be in the top tier

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p8 years ago

very interestin read thanks.a pity so many states don`thave good animalwelfare laws.

Bill U.
Bill U.8 years ago


Diane Miles
Diane Miles8 years ago

Glad IN is on the top line but does not matter who does the poll animal abuse has to be stopped all together no matter what state it is done in.

Diane Miles
Diane Miles8 years ago

Glad IN is on the top but no matter what animal abuse has to be stopped no matter who does the poll it is important to be done now.

Vaiva G.
Vaiva G8 years ago

Good to know California is on the top of that list...time for the other states to follow suit. In the very least it should be considered that there are countless correlations between animal and human abuse.