2015 Report Released: Best & Worst Animal Protection Laws by State — Ranked #1 – #50Posted on December 16, 2015
Illinois Ranked #1 with the Strongest Protection—Kentucky Ranked #50 with the Weakest Animal Protection
For immediate release:
Natalia Lima, Natalia@PawsPR.com, 201 679 7088
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the premiere legal organization for animals, released the 10th annual year-end report (2015), ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states.
For the eighth year in a row, Illinois takes first place—followed by Oregon (2), Maine (3), California (4), and Michigan (5). Kentucky holds steady at fiftieth place for the ninth year in a row, followed by Iowa (49), Wyoming (48), Utah (47), and North Dakota (46) rounding out states with the weakest animal protection laws.
New Jersey (9) was the most-improved state in 2015, jumping twenty-eight places in rank, in part, by passing a comprehensive dogfighting law that increased penalties and made dogfighting a RICO (racketeering) offense. All 50 states have felony provisions for animal fighting, and now eight states make fighting a RICO offense.
The report also highlights legislation allowing for animals to be included in protective orders in cases of domestic violence. Ohio (27) enacted such a provision this year, bringing the total to 29 states, in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
“Protective orders are crucial for removing both human and animal victims from the cycle of domestic violence, because human victims are often afraid to leave their pets behind,” says Stephen Wells, Executive Director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “We applaud those states that recognize the clear Link between violence towards humans and animals by allowing judges to include animals in domestic violence protective orders—and we hope other states continue to follow suit.”
Other notable changes this year included Oklahoma’s (17) and Pennsylvania’s (42) increased penalties for harming a police animal, Colorado’s (8) increased animal fighting penalties, Delaware’s (12) new prohibition on leaving an animal unattended in a motor vehicle, and Tennessee’s (22) new law providing civil immunity for forcibly removing an animal from a hot car. Seventeen states and the Virgin Islands now have laws that prohibit reckless conduct, such as leaving an animal in a hot car.
A study of the past five years of ALDF’s Ranking Reports shows more than three quarters of all states and territories have significantly improved their animal protection laws.
The Rankings are based on a comprehensive review of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws including over 4,000 pages of statutes. This is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, and tracks which states are taking animal protection seriously.
The full report, including details about each state, is available at for download (PDF). ALDF’s complete “Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and Canada” compendium, on which the report is based, is available at aldf.org/compendium.