The data applies to 2012 and has been compiled on the quality of the animal protection laws in the 50 states based on a range of criteria. The assessment did not take into account the enforcement of the law. However where there is good animal protection laws there should be good legislators; politicians who should reflect the aspirations of the citizens of the state. Therefore good laws mean concerned citizens resulting in better animal welfare.
The best five states in descending order are:
The worst five states are:
- New Mexico (ranked 46th)
- South Dakota (ranked 47th)
- Iowa (ranked 48th)
- North Dakota (ranked 49th)
- Kentucky (ranked last at 50th)
Over the past five years to 2012 more than 75% of US states improved animal protection laws. Of these states the most improved was Arkansas (139% improvement as measured by the Animal League Defense Fund – ALDF). Mississipi improved by 78%, Arizona by 52% and Indiana by 74%.
By ‘improvements’ in the law ALDF means such things as expanding the species of protected animals, stiffer penalties for offenders and reporting of animal abuse case by veterinarians.
There has been a significant increase in the amendment of animal protection laws to include felony penalties for animal cruelty. To outsiders, a felony is a more serious crime with attendant harsher punishment than misdemeanours.
The District of Columbia and U.S. territories are included and are in italics.
The top tier states and territories in descending order (the best is Illinois and the worst of the top tier is Florida) are:
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
- District of Columbia
The middle tier states and territories in descending order are:
- Puerto Rico
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
- Virgin Islands
- South Carolina
- New York
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
- Northern Mariana Islands
- American Samoa
These are the categories used in questioning the quality of the law:
- General prohibitions
- Penalties Exemptions Mental health evaluations & counseling
- Protective orders
- Cost mitigation & recovery Seizure/impoundment
- Forfeiture and post‐conviction possession
- Non‐animal agency reporting of suspected animal cruelty
- Veterinarian reporting of suspected animal cruelty
- Law enforcement policies
- Sexual assault
- Offender registration
- “Ag gag” legislation. This is legislation which has been created through the lobbying of politicians by big agricultural businesses. This legislation makes it illegal to photograph or video agricultural facilities. Its aim is to conceal poor working conditions, animal abuse and food safety risks.
Source: Animal League Defense Fund – ALDF. Clipart picture: Artwork:Richard Gunther Shading:Scott Yardley from ChristArt