2011 State Animal Protection Laws Rankings
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


Institute for Humane Education (IHE)
December 2011

Download the full report - PDF

It only takes a glance at the news to know we have a long way to go as a society in transforming our relationship with nonhuman animals. One area that deserves attention is legislation that protects animals. Earlier this month the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) released their 2011 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings, which analyzes the animal protection laws of each state across 14 broad categories and ranks each state according to its score.

According to the report, Illinois holds the top spot for the fourth year in a row, while Mississippi showed the most improvement, moving from 50th to 30th. The worst offender? Kentucky. Here are the top 5 and bottom five for 2011:

Top 5:

  1. Illinois
  2. Maine
  3. Michigan
  4. Oregon
  5. California

Bottom 5:

46. South Dakokta
47. Iowa
48. Idaho
49. North Dakota
50. Kentucky

According to ALDF more than half of all states and territories have "experienced a significant improvement in their animal protection laws." In reviewing the results from ALDF’s rankings reports over the past five years, more than half of all states and territories experienced a significant improvement in their animal protection laws, including these that have improved by greater than 50%:

  • Alaska: 53%
  • Utah: 56%
  • Guam: 63%
  • Mississippi: 66%
  • Puerto Rico: 91%
  • Arkansas: 95%

Some of the improvements states have made have included:

  • Expanding the range of protections for animals
  • Providing stiffer penalties for offenders
  • Better standards of care for animals
  • Reporting of animal cruelty cases by veterinarians and other professionals
  • Mitigation and recovery of the costs associated with the care and rehabilitation of mistreated animals
  • Mental health evaluations and counseling for offenders
  • Bans on ownership of animals following convictions
  • Allowing animals to be included in domestic violence protective orders

While it's wonderful that so much progress has been made, it's important to remember that most of these laws protect only companion animals. And, in a society that condones and supports institutionalized animal exploitation and cruelty, proving, or even defining "abuse," "neglect," or "cruelty" can be extremely challenging.

ALDF encourages those who want more and stronger animal protection laws to contact their elected officials and advocate for them.

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