Annual Study Names 2014’s “Top Five States to be an Animal Abuser”Posted on December 15, 2014
Animal Legal Defense Fund Releases Year-End Report Ranking State Animal Cruelty
For immediate release:
Megan Backus, ALDF
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
SAN FRANCISCO — Kentucky, Iowa, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming are 2014’s 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, ALDF has released a year-end 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 ninth annual state rankings report, which is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, 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 eighth year in a row) where animal abusers get off easy.
Why are these states in the doghouse? The bottom-tiered states have inadequate standards of basic care for animals, limited authority given to humane officers, and lack of mandatory reporting when veterinarians suspect animal cruelty. On the other hand, this year’s “best states for animals”—Illinois, Maine, Oregon, California, and Michigan—demonstrate the strongest commitment to combating animal cruelty through their laws. For the seventh consecutive year, Illinois was the best of the best for the strength of its animal-protection laws.
South Dakota made the most dramatic improvement, by adding felony penalties for cases involving extreme animal cruelty or torture—all 50 states now have this felony provision. South Dakota also instituted a statewide ban on breed-specific legislation. Maryland similarly rejected the notion that a dog can be deemed “dangerous” solely because of his breed. 19 states prohibit outlawing or regulating dogs based on breed alone, and require proof of a dog’s supposed danger beyond mere breed.
Since ALDF’s first rankings report in 2006, more than half of all states and territories have made a significant improvement in their animal protection laws. “There is room for growth in every jurisdiction,” says Stephen Wells, executive director for ALDF. “Animals don’t vote, but those who advocate for animal protection do, so ALDF hopes lawmakers will recognize the need for serious progress in animal protection laws across the nation.”
The full report, including a rankings map, chart, and details about each state, is available at aldf.org/staterankings. 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. ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system.