ALDF: The five best states to be an animal abuser

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The Animal Legal Defense Fund has a release its annual report ranking animal cruelty laws in the 50 states. The states at or near the bottom of the list need to get their bottoms in gear.


From the press release:

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Kentucky, North Dakota, Iowa, South Dakota, and New Mexico are 2012’s five best states to be an animal abuser, according to the latest report released by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Following a detailed comparative analysis of the animal protection laws of each state in the country, ALDF has released a new report ranking 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. The report analyzes more than 4,000 pages of statutes, tracks fifteen broad categories of provisions, and reveals the states where animal law has real teeth – and calls out those, like Kentucky (the single worst state in the nation for animal protection laws, for the sixth year in a row) where animal abusers get off easy. ALDF’s seventh annual state rankings report is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind. 

Why are these five states in the dog house when it comes to getting tough on animal abuse? Legislative weaknesses in the bottom-tiered states include extremely limited or entirely absent felony penalties for the worst types of animal abuse, inadequate standards of basic care for an animal, and lack of ownership restrictions for those convicted of cruelty to animals. On the other end of the spectrum, this year’s “best five states for animals” list includes Illinois, Maine, California, Michigan, and Oregon, who demonstrated the strongest commitment to combating animal cruelty through their laws. For the fifth consecutive year, Illinois was the very best of the best for the strength of its laws protecting animals. The states with biggest changes include Kansas, whose “ag gag” law caused it to drop from 6 to 13, and Idaho, which enacted its first felony provisions and improved from 52 to 44.

Since ALDF’s first rankings report in 2006, more than half of all states and territories have experienced a significant improvement in their animal protection laws. Despite these gains, there still remains room for improvement in every jurisdiction. “We look forward to further progress in the upcoming year,” says Stephen Wells, executive director for ALDF. “Regardless of ranking, each state and territory has ample room for improvement. We hope lawmakers will recognize the need for immediate improvement in animal protection laws across the nation. Although animals do not vote, those who love and protect them certainly do.”

The full report, including a rankings map, chart, and overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the animal protection laws of the best and worst states, is available at ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, and to download ALDF’s “Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and Canada” compendium (on which the report is based), visit

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