Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota are the five best states in the country to be an animal abuser, according to a new report released today by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Based on a detailed comparative analysis of more than 3,800 pages of statutes, tracking fourteen distinct categories of provisions, the report recognizes the states where animal law has real teeth, and calls out those like Kentucky – the single worst in the nation again this year for animal protection laws – where animal abusers get off easy. The annual report, the only one of its kind in the nation, ranks 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.
Why are these five states in the dog house when it comes to getting tough on animal abuse? The legislative weaknesses seen in the states at the bottom of the animal protection barrel include severely restricted or absent felony animal cruelty provisions, inadequate animal fighting provisions, and lack of restrictions on the future ownership of animals for those convicted of cruelty to animals. Many state laws have improved since ALDF’s last state rankings report was released in 2008; Arkansas, for example, was one of the worst five states last year, but jumped up to 25th overall in the country in 2009 due to a host of statutory improvements. On the other end of the spectrum, this year’s “best five for animals” list remains unchanged from the 2008 list, with California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Oregon demonstrating through their laws the strongest commitment to combating animal cruelty; Illinois was the very best of the best for the strength of its laws protecting animals.
“This year we see many states and territories that are continuing to make outstanding progress with their laws. Unfortunately, there are still many places where the laws are incapable of providing the legal protections that our country’s animals need and deserve,” says Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund's director of legislative affairs and author of the report. “Even in those jurisdictions that have today’s best laws, there remain many opportunities for improvement. Especially important during our country’s current recession are laws that help to save limited community resources by reducing the costs of caring for abused animals and ensuring that those who are responsible for such crimes shoulder this burden instead of taxpayers and private interests. While animals do not vote, those who love and care about them certainly do, so we encourage lawmakers throughout the country to take heed and commit to working to improve these critical laws.”
ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, including a copy of the state rankings report and a free downloadable version of the complete compendium of state anti-cruelty laws on which the report is based, please visit www.aldf.org.
Copyright © 2009 ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
Reprinted with permission of the ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND www.aldf.org