2020 U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Rankings

The Best And Worst States For Animal Protection Laws

Select an animal law category to view 2020 trends:

State strengths and weaknesses

Every state and territory, regardless of rank, has room for improvement. Here, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has highlighted some strengths and weaknesses in each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws. The number of strengths or weaknesses listed varies based upon the jurisdiction’s rank as follows:

  • Top Tier — 3 strengths & 2 weaknesses
  • Middle Tier — 2 strengths & 3 weaknesses
  • Bottom Tier — 1 strength & 4 weaknesses

The disparity in various jurisdictions’ animal protection laws demonstrates the unfortunate reality that, in many places, the law significantly underrepresents animals’ interests. However, the Rankings Report also presents an opportunity to improve laws everywhere. New animal protection laws continue to be implemented around the country by motivated lawmakers and their constituents — just like you. As new laws are enacted and utilized, states and territories can learn from one another, building upon statutes that have been successful in other jurisdictions to create strong and effective protections for animals.

Note the weaknesses in your jurisdiction’s laws for areas where your state or territory can improve. Look at other states’ strengths — particularly those that have ranked highly — for ideas your jurisdiction can draw upon to improve its own laws.

Editor’s Note: These highlights provide merely a snapshot of a jurisdiction’s laws — they are not comprehensive, and do not address every issue. For a complete collection of the jurisdiction’s animal protection laws, please see the Compendium of Laws. Please also note that the law is constantly evolving; therefore always review an official source for the most current language of any statute.

The 56 jurisdictions included in the 2020 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report℠ were numerically ranked based on their cumulative scores to 49 study questions covering 19 distinct animal protection laws categories. The report analyzed enacted laws only and did not review the separate issue of how these laws are enforced. Answers to the study questions were based primarily on the statutory data contained in the 3,400+ page compilation Animal Protection Laws of the United States (Fourteenth Edition)℠. The study questions were close-ended and the choices exhaustive and mutually exclusive.