The Best And Worst States For Animal Protection Laws In 2016, Ranked


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The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) released its annual report ranking states in the U.S. on the strength and comprehensiveness of their animal protection laws for 2016. The ALDF is a non-profit organization that works to protect the rights of animals by influencing laws across the country. Their report takes into account over 4,000 pages of statutes and gives a score based on 15 different categories. It reveals some interesting facts.


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Their report shows that Illinois is the best state for animal protection laws for the ninth year in a row, followed by Oregon in second, Maine in third, California fourth, and Rhode Island–breaking into the top five this year–in fifth place. The worst states for animal protection laws are as follows: Kentucky at number 50 for the tenth year in a row, Iowa at 49, Wyoming at 48, Utah at 47, and North Dakota at 46.

A dog with an injured ear being looked after at an animal hospital.

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Wisconsin wins “most improved,” jumping up 14 places in the ranks in 2016. This is partly because of a new cost-of-care law that requires reimbursement for the cost of caring for a cruelly treated animal prior to the disposition of a case. This is important because cases can go on for years, leaving care-giving agencies with a huge amount of expenses as the animals are treated until the disposition.

"Dog apparently checking his wing mirror as he drives the car. Good business metaphor playing on the idea of being in the driving seat. Could also suit concepts of safe driving, road rage and animal welfare."

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Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin enacted laws granting immunity for citizens who break into hot cars to save suffering animals, bringing the total number of states who have these laws up to 24. Tennessee enacted their first statewide animal abuse registry. Maryland and Pennsylvania passed legislation against owning dog-fighting paraphernalia, and several other states have enacted positive laws for animal protection.

Sad Young puppy in shelter waiting for new owner

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Across the country, there has been a steady upward trend in the strength of animal protection laws. Over the last five years, more than three quarters of states and territories have improved these laws, and several have enacted harsher penalties for breaking them.

You can find the complete report along with the methodology used for the ranking system from the ADLF here.

Are you proud of your state? Do you think your state should be doing more to protect animals? Let us know in the comments below!

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