New Mexico Ranked Worst State for Animal Protection Laws
2020 Rankings Report Released: Animal Protection Laws by State
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — New Mexico now ranks as the worst state for animal protection laws according to the annual U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report published by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals.
The longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, the 15th annual year-end Rankings Report (2020) assesses the relative strengths and weaknesses of each U.S. state’s and territory’s animal protection laws and ranks them accordingly.
New Mexico is followed by Wyoming (49), Idaho (48), Mississippi (47), and Alabama (46) rounding out states with the weakest animal protection laws. Maine takes first place with the strongest state animal protection laws — followed by Illinois (2), Oregon (3), Colorado (4), and Rhode Island (5).
New Mexico earned its lowest spot in the rankings because state lawmakers have yet to pass a number of important, and increasingly universal, protections. For example, New Mexico is one of just four states with no prohibition on sexual assault of animals and also is in the minority of states that do not explicitly allow animals to be included in domestic violence protection orders. Additionally, its definition of “animal” excludes reptiles and wild, uncaptured animals, meaning those animals are not protected under the general animal cruelty statutes.
A continuing trend over the past several years is laws regarding possession bans, a sentencing measure in which courts prohibit convicted offenders from owning or residing in the same household as an animal. This year, four states created or strengthened their possession ban statutes. A new trend in 2020 was stronger laws relating to necessary shelter for animals. This year, four states amended their laws to provide greater detail for what kind of shelter guardians must provide to protect their animals from the elements and inclement weather.
“Even in the tumultuous year that was 2020, we saw enormous strides being made to better protect animals, including several jurisdictions completely overhauling their animal cruelty laws,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund is proud that our comprehensive annual Rankings Report serve as a valuable tool for legislators, who use them to thoroughly examine and strengthen their states’ animal protection laws.“
The rankings are based on a comprehensive review of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws, including over 3,000 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 aldf.org/staterankings.
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