Each year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund releases a report ranking the best and worst states for animal welfare in the U.S. These rankings are based on the strength and comprehensiveness of each state’s animal protection laws. The most recent report covers calendar year 2014. Where does your state rank in humane legislation? Read on to find out…
Best 10 states for animals
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
Worst 10 states for animals
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
What kinds of animal protection laws are in place in the best states for animals? The top states have felony penalties for animal cruelty, neglect, fighting, abandonment, and sexual assault. They have stiff penalties for repeat offenders and animal hoarders. Most allow courts to order forfeiture of abused animals, and also require certain professionals (such as vets) to be mandatory reporters of suspected abuse. Many also include animals in domestic violence protection orders.
The so-called worst states tend not to have these kinds of animal protection laws in place. They also for the most part do not require police to enforce animal protection laws or give humane officers significant law enforcement authority.
The ALDF notes that while many states are making progress on strengthening animal protection legislation, more work still needs to be done. They point to the need for “reckless endangerment of an animal” laws to address the problem of animals (particularly dogs) being left in hot cars as just one example.
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