The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is out with its annual rankings on the best and worst states when it comes to laws that protect animals from cruelty.
Best states overall: Illinois heads the top five, followed by Maine, Michigan (except for Detroit), Oregon and California.
Bottom of the barrel: Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho, Iowa and South Dakota.
Most improvement overall: Mississippi, which moved from 50th last year to 30th this year.
“These annual reports identify what each state and territory is doing with respect to their animal protection laws,” said Stephan Otto, ALDF’s director of legislative affairs and author of the report. “Since ALDF began publishing these rankings in 2006, there has been a marked advance in the laws of many states and territories.”
The report is based on a detailed comparative analysis of the animal protection laws of each jurisdiction, researching 14 broad categories of provisions throughout more than 4,000 pages of statutes.
Mississippi’s improved ranking was due partly to its enactment of a felony penalty for repeated cruelty and neglect. Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota have no felony penalties for animal abuse and offer “counseling” for offenders.
Guam showed the second best improvement, moving up 18 spots to 34th in the nation. Arkansas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Oregon and Texas all improved their scores, in part, from new laws that allow animals to be included in domestic violence protective orders.
California, Maryland, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Washington added or strengthened laws restricting access to animals following an animal abuse conviction. Many other states moved up in this year’s report as well. Kentucky, once again, had the notorious distinction of having the weakest laws of any state in the nation—a position it has held for the past five years.
Arkansas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Oregon and Texas all improved their scores on account of new laws that allow nonhuman animals to be included in domestic violence protective orders.
You’ll find the full report here, along with a downloadable pdf.