Two weeks ago I wrote about the efforts to strengthen animal cruelty laws in New York.
In my research, I discovered that each year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) ranks the animal protection laws of every state in the United States.
The ALDF's most recent report compares fourteen categories of animal protection laws, ranking states into a top, middle and bottom tier and highlighting the best and worst five states.
Best Five: Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, California
Worst Five: Kentucky, North Dakota, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi
Top Tier: California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Vermont, Virginia
Middle Tier: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Utah, Virgin Islands
Bottom Tier: Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming
Some of the characteristics that separated the best from the worst were felony penalties for cruelty, neglect and abandonment, mandatory reporting of cruelty by veterinarians, and giving humane agents some law enforcement authority.
I’m glad that the Animal Legal Defense Fund is compiling this information as it brings awareness to the varying laws between states. Hopefully this report will encourage animal lovers to write to their respective politicians to improve their states’ ranking. Arkansas, which made an appearance on the worst five list in 2008, made the jump to 25th overall in the country this year.
Even for the top tier, there is always room to be better. For each of the best five states, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has outlined possible improvements.
Let’s hope that one day every state will make it to the top tier.