Annual Study Names 2013’s “Top Five States to be an Animal Abuser”

Animal Legal Defense Fund Releases Year-End Report Ranking State Animal Cruelty Laws

SAN FRANCISCO — Kentucky, Iowa, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Wyoming are 2013’s five best states to abuse animals, according to the latest report released by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

Following a detailed comparative analysis of the animal protection laws, 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 report 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 seventh year in a row) where animal abusers get off easy.

ALDF’s eighth annual state rankings report is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind.

Why are these states in the dog house when it comes to getting tough on animal abuse? Legislative weaknesses in the bottom-tiered states include inadequate standards of basic care for an animal, limited authority given to humane officers, and lack of mandatory reporting when veterinarians suspect animal cruelty. On the other end of the spectrum, this year’s “best five states for animals” list includes Illinois, Oregon, Michigan, Maine, and California, who demonstrated the strongest commitment to combating animal cruelty through their laws. For the sixth consecutive year, Illinois was the very best of the best for the strength of its laws protecting animals. The states with the biggest changes include North Dakota, which added, for the first time, felony penalties for cases involving extreme animal cruelty or torture. Arizona was the most improved state this year, and was one of six states that strengthened its cost of care provisions. Other state improvements include adding felony penalties for animal neglect.

ALDF released its first rankings report in 2006; since then more than half of all states and territories have made a significant improvement in their animal protection laws. Yet there remains room for growth in every jurisdiction. “Each state and territory has plenty of room for improvement,” says Stephen Wells, executive director for ALDF. “We hope lawmakers recognize the need for serious progress in animal protection laws across the nation. Animals don’t vote, but those who advocate for animal protection do.”

The full report, including a rankings map, chart, and details about each state, is available at ALDF’s complete “Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and Canada” compendium,on which the report is based, is available ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system

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