The Best and Worst States for Animals – Where does your state fall?
The report comprehensively surveys animal protection laws for all U.S. states and territories and then ranks those states and territories based on their laws.
“…the RANKINGS REPORT assesses the strength of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws by examining over 4,000 pages of statutes. Each jurisdiction receives a raw score based on fifteen different categories of animal protection…”
Of course, I was curious to find out what categories they included in their ranking, and I wanted to know where my state stood amongst the group (Minnesota ranked #14).
I was disappointed to see that the detailed information in the report, like what put each state at that ranking and what they could do better, was confined to only the 5 best and 5 worst states. However, I thought the information was interesting enough to share a summary of their findings. I suspect that if you live in one of these states you already know where they would fall, but it’s still worth sharing. I encourage you to review the full report yourself. It’s quite interesting.
There were 15 categories used to determine a state’s ranking. These covered laws in the following areas:
- General prohibitions
- Mental health evaluations & counseling
- Protective orders
- Cost mitigation & recovery
- 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 (New this year, this ranking takes into account states where laws – propagated by the agriculture lobby – aim to conceal animal abuse, food safety risks, and illegal working conditions from consumers by making it illegal to video record or photograph at agricultural facilities.)
The Best 5 States for animals are:
The Worst 5 states for animals are:
- New Mexico (#46)
- South Dakota (#47)
- Iowa (#48)
- North Dakota (#49)*
- Kentucky (#50)
*I thought it was interesting (but not surprising) to see North Dakota on the “worst” list. I wrote about them late last year after their citizens voted down a law that would have made animal cruelty a felony. It’s kind of hard to see them making the best list with that kind of news isn’t it? By the way, South Dakota has chosen not to make animal cruelty a felony as well. I can’t help but wonder why. Surely the people in these states love animals too. Right?
What was also interesting were the states that improved their ranking by more than 50%:
District of Columbia: 64%
What made their ranking change so significantly? They changed, added laws or strengthened their existing animal protection laws.
Some of the areas in which they made this happen include:
- Expanding the range of protections for animals
- Providing stiffer penalties for offenders
- Strengthening standards of care for animals
- Reporting of animal cruelty cases by veterinarians and other professionals
- Mitigating and recovering costs associated with the care of mistreated animals
- Requiring mental health evaluations and counseling for offenders
- Banning ownership of animals following convictions
- Including animals in domestic violence protective orders
- Prohibiting convicted abusers from gaining employment involving animal contact
- Strengthening provisions on the sale and possession of exotic animals
- Expanding humane officers’ powers to be the same as other peace officers