The Animal Legal Defense Fund has released a new report showing that while animal welfare laws have made great progress in recent years, five states lag far behind.
The only annual report of its kind in the nation, the ALDF ranks all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and other U.S. territories for the general comprehensiveness and relative strength of their respective animal protection laws. Their research determined that Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota are the five states where it’s easiest to be an animal abuser without legal repercussion.
The states at the bottom of the animal protection list have legislative issues such as 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.
While states like Arkansas show signs of improvement with upcoming animal protection legislation, states like Kentucky are still under fire for issues such as animal cruelty in the Kentucky County animal shelter system.
“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.
On the other end of the spectrum, this year’s “best five for animals” list remains unchanged from the 2007 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.
While Otto praises these states, he says more can be done, “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.”
To see where your state ranks, visit the Animal Defense Legal Fund.
Melissa Elliott is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. Her personal blog, TheUrbanHousewife.com, documents her culinary adventures from her kitchen to vegan food around the world. When she's not glued to her computer or on the road, she loves to spend time with her husband, Ryan, cats Beamish & Scurvy, and beloved chihuahua, Strummer.