Press Release

States’ Animal Protection Laws Ranked by Animal Legal Defense Fund: Maine is #1, New Mexico #50

2022 U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Ranking Report Released


SAN FRANCISCO — The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, has released the 17th annual year-end U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Ranking Report (2022), ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states.

For the third year in a row Maine maintains its first-place rank — followed by Illinois (2), Oregon (3), Colorado (4), and Rhode Island (5). New Mexico remained in 50th place for the third year in a row, with Mississippi (49), Alabama (48), Idaho (47), and Utah (46) rounding out states with the weakest animal protection laws.

The most improved jurisdiction in 2022 was Maryland which rose four places in rank, from 32nd to 28th place. Maryland enacted several animal protection laws in 2022, including one that permits courts to order the forfeiture of cruelly treated animals, ensuring they can be adopted into new, loving homes. Maryland also became the second state in the country to ban declawing of cats, an invasive amputation surgery which causes physical and psychological issues.

A new trend highlighted in the Rankings Report is the inclusion of animals in protection orders. Courts may issue protection orders, more commonly known as restraining orders, to survivors of domestic violence in order to protect them from their abusers. Sadly, animals are too often used as tools of domestic violence; offenders with threaten to harm or kill animals in order to control or psychological abuse the animal’s guardian. Laws which permit animals to be included in protection orders allow survivors of domestic violence to safety flee their abusers, while also protecting their animals. Jurisdictions which enacted or strengthened existing animal protection orders in 2022 include Connecticut, Kentucky, Utah, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

“Animal protection laws are critical to protecting some of the most vulnerable members of our society who are often not treated with the consideration they deserve under the law,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Chief Programs Officer Kera Melrose. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s annual Rankings Report provides a consistent measurement of legislative progress for animals nationwide and state to state — regardless of where a state falls in the ranks, there is always room for improvement.”

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

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