Animal Protection Laws: Where Does Your State Rank?

Posted by Lora Dunn, ALDF Staff Attorney on December 17, 2013

The results are in! The Animal Legal Defense Fund published its eighth annual Rankings Report—the longest-running, most comprehensive report that tracks animal protection laws across the entire U.S. This year’s biggest trends included strengthening penalties for neglecting an animal (now a felony in six more states) and requiring that abusers reimburse those who care for cruelly treated animals—including Arizona, the most-improved jurisdiction in 2013. Watch my short video update for more about latest trends in criminal legislation.

Where does your state rank? The best five states for animal protection remained the same this year, with Oregon enacting a felony penalty for animal neglect and rising to the number two spot. Kudos to North Dakota, which completely revamped its cruelty code to include a felony cruelty provision for the first time, and jumped out of the dreaded “best states to abuse animals.” South Dakota is now the only state that does not include a felony penalty for even the most heinous acts of cruelty. For more analysis on the report, listen to my interview on CBS Chicago.

Disappointed with how your state ranks? Take action! Call your representatives today and demand stronger animal protection laws in your state.
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13 thoughts on “Animal Protection Laws: Where Does Your State Rank?

  1. Lorie Obradovich says:

    What’s your excuse, South Dakota?

  2. Robert Dalziel says:

    Terrible! And This MUST CHANGE NOW!

  3. Suzie Clippinger says:

    Thank you for the information, appreciate your research that we can use for the protection of sentient beings….

  4. My state of New Jersey ranks in the middle tier – 40th – but there have been some improvements with Patrick’s Law being signed into law. I was also very happy to see a judge in NJ take a stand for a badly neglected and abused dog named Sammy. On Nov. 18th Judge LePore sentenced Keith and Shauna Morgan – charged with animal cruelty – to $1,000 fines, $13,500 in restitution to the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital who cared for Sammy, 30 days community service, they are prohibited from future ownership of an animal and six months in jail. Judge LePore “This court believes that a message needs to be sent not just to these defendants, but to all of society that animal cruelty is a national and global problem and must be addressed and deterred.” I will never forget him addressing the Morgans and saying: “Any one capable of treating their pet the way you did is despicable.” Prosecutor Steven Zabarsky presented a solid, impassioned case on behalf of Sammy. He concluded his argument by holding up a large poster of Sammy, matted so severely he could not stand and left in a a black trash bag, stating: “A picture is worth more than a 1,000 words and we ask for Justice For Sammy.” We must keep fighting for better laws to protect animals and for stricter penalties for their abusers.

  5. California might make animal cruelty a felony but if it’s not proscuted then it does mean anything. I live in Modesto CA my case was open and shut. The guilty party admitted to me, the police, the newspaper the media and in 5 letters what he had done, the D.A would NOT proscute! Therfore this man had been freely committing these crimes for the last 10 yrs and getting away with it!! Laws don’t matter if they are not upheld

    1. Cassie Shepherd says:

      Hallie you are absolutely right! It does not matter one bit where you rank, if the laws are not upheld and enforced, they are worthless! I have seen this happen over & over in my state of Illinois!

  6. Reva Hudson says:

    Stronger animal cruelty prevention will help animals AND humans. thank you.

  7. Pam Johnston says:

    I am so fexcited to hear these laws are getting stronger. I have ms, worked in human resources for 25 years and would love to write letters, do what I can to to help with getting laws changed. Let me know how I can help.

  8. Sherrie Nelson says:

    It is about time something is being done to punish the POS that torture, abuse, neglect and in other ways that hurt animals.

  9. Marcia Moss says:

    Sadly my State Kentucky leads the pack but then I already knew that as I have a horse rescue. We as rescuers and animal lovers have been trying for years to get stronger laws…we won’t quit trying!!!

  10. Lori Rago says:

    My state, the state of Michigan apparently ranks 3 according to the 2013 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings, however, on November 22, 2013, a dog, according to Michigan State law that police officers have an affirmative duty to enforce animal protection laws for, was shot 5-8 times, on her own property, in front of her own door, dragged to the animal control truck and was kept at the scene for at least a half hour while she bled out. The city has taken no action against the police involved in the shooting or the animal control officer who dragged her to the truck. Residents are attending city council meetings to get justice for this poor dog and her family. The laws may be there, but who is to enforce them when the law enforcement officials are involved in the cruelty?

  11. Karin MacCurrie says:

    Time for change

  12. PAUL JOHNSON says:


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