SOURCE: Animal Legal Defense Fund

Animal Legal Defense Fund

December 13, 2011 08:00 ET

Year-End Study Names 2011's "Five Best States to Be an Animal Abuser"

Animal Legal Defense Fund Releases Annual Report Ranking Animal Cruelty Laws Across the Nation; Illinois Remains on Top, Mississippi Shows Most Improvement

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - Dec 13, 2011) - Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho, Iowa, and South Dakota are the five best states in the country to be an animal abuser, according to a new report released today by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Based on a detailed comparative analysis of more than 4,000 pages of statutes, tracking fourteen broad categories of provisions, the report recognizes the states where animal law has real teeth and calls out those like Kentucky -- the single worst in the nation for animal protection laws for the fifth year running -- where animal abusers get off easy. ALDF's sixth annual state rankings report, the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, ranks all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories for the general comprehensiveness and relative strength of their respective animal protection laws.

Why are these five states in the dog house when it comes to getting tough on animal abuse? The legislative weaknesses seen in the states at the bottom of the animal protection barrel include severely restricted or absent felony penalties for the worst types of animal abuse, inadequate standards of basic care for an animal, and lack of restrictions on the ownership of animals for those convicted of cruelty to animals. On the other end of the spectrum, this year's "best five states for animals" list remains unchanged from 2010, with Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, and California demonstrating through their laws the strongest commitment to combating animal cruelty. For the fifth consecutive year, Illinois was the very best of the best for the strength of its laws protecting animals. Mississippi showed the most improvement, moving from 50th last year (out of the 56 states, territories, and district) -- and one of the five worst states -- to 30th overall this year. Guam showed the second best improvement, moving up 18 spots to 34th in the nation. Arkansas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Oregon, and Texas all improved their standings due, in part, to the adoption of laws that allow animals to be included in domestic violence protective orders.

The full report, including a rankings map, chart, and overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the animal protection laws of the best and worst states, is available at

Since ALDF's first rankings report in 2006, more than half of all states and territories have experienced a significant improvement in their animal protection laws. "We are very optimistic for additional progress in the upcoming year," says Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund's director of legislative affairs and author of the report. "Regardless of where each jurisdiction currently ranks, every state and territory has ample room for improvement, and we urge lawmakers to heed the call for better animal protection laws across the nation. Animals do not vote, but those who love them definitely do."

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, and to download ALDF's "Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and Canada" compendium (on which the report is principally based), visit

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Lisa Franzetta
    707-795-2533, x1015
    415-203-5472 (mobile)
    Email Contact

    Stephan Otto
    503-231-1602, ext. 301 (office)
    503-454-6886 (mobile)
    Email Contact