"The Five Best States to be an Animal Abuser"

animal protection usa map

Animal Cruelty Abounds in Some States
The the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has just release a new report that looks at the best and worst U.S. states when it comes to the legal protection of animals against abuse and cruelty. The comparative analysis tells us what are the best states, but also, what are the "best states to be an animal abuser" (their words). What are those 5 states?
sad cat caged photo

Photo: Flickr, CC
...and the Losers Are
The ALDF points an accusing finger at: Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota. At the very bottom of the list is Kentucky, a state where animal abusers get off easy and animal protection law doesn't really have any teeth.

Here's a list of reasons from why Kentucky is so bad when it comes to protecting animals:

  • Felony provision available only for cruelty against select animals
  • No felony provisions for extreme neglect or abandonment
  • Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care
  • Principal protections apply only to select types of animals
  • No mental health evaluations or counselling for offenders
  • No cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals (e.g. cost of care bonds, other reimbursement of costs, liens, restitution provisions)
  • No forfeiture of abused animals
  • No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction
  • Veterinarians are prohibited from reporting suspected cruelty or fighting
  • No provisions for select non animal related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse
  • Inadequate humane agent provisions and no duty on peace officers to enforce animal protection laws
  • No separate crime for the sexual assault of an animal
  • No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals
  • Inadequate animal fighting provisions

The lists are very similar in the other top 5 worst states.


Photo: Flickr, CC
Top 5 Best States for Legislative Animal Protection
At the top of the list are: Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, California. Number 1 is Illinois. Compare the list below with Kentucky's list:

  • Felony penalties for cruelty, neglect, abandonment and sexual assault
  • Adequate definitions/standards of basic care
  • Principal protections apply to most animals
  • Full range of statutory protections
  • Increased penalties for repeat animal abusers and animal hoarders
  • Mental health evaluations prior to sentencing
  • Counseling/anger management for certain offenders
  • Some mandatory cost recovery measures for impounded animals
  • Pre conviction forfeiture allowed
  • Mandatory forfeiture of select animals on conviction
  • Court may order restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals upon conviction
  • Mandatory reporting of suspected animal cruelty by select non animal related agencies
  • Mandatory reporting of animal cruelty by veterinarians
  • Humane agents have some law enforcement authority
  • Protective orders may include animals

Of course it's not perfect, and the report suggests areas where there could be improvements. But it's definitely a stronger legal framework to help prevent the worst kind of abuses, and most importantly, it doesn't create a general culture of impunity when it comes to cruelty to animals.

Via ALDF (pdf)

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