The Animal Legal Defense Fund has released their 13th annual year-end U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report for 2018; ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states.
For the 11th year in a row, Illinois takes first place, followed by Oregon (2), Maine (3), Colorado (4), and Massachusetts (5).
Massachusetts (5) and Louisiana (7) were the most-improved states in 2018; with the passing of the former state’s comprehensive PAWS II Act, which made improvements to numerous animal protection laws, and the latter state passing two other animal protection laws concerning the safety of dogs and cats in extreme weather conditions.
Last year, Massachusetts was ranked 14th while Louisiana was ranked 21st.
Also included in the top tier, are Rhode Island (6), California (8), Washington (9), Indiana (10), Texas (11), Michigan (12), Florida (13), Virginia (14), and Pennsylvania (15).
This year, according to the organization, the report uses a new and improved rankings system, adding five new categories to its rankings methodology: the definition of “animal,” courtroom animal advocate programs, laws that allow individuals to rescue dogs from hot parked cars, civil nuisance abatement and breed-specific legislation.
Here are how the middle tier of states ranked: Nevada (16), New Jersey (17), Kansas (18), New Hampshire (19), Delaware (20), Minnesota (21), West Virginia (22), Vermont (23), Nebraska (24), Tennessee (25), Arizona (26), Connecticut (27), Oklahoma (28), Ohio (29), Arkansas (30), Wisconsin (31), Maryland (32), New York (33), Missouri (34), and South Dakota (35).
New trends highlighted in the Rankings Report include possession bans, a post-conviction remedy, allowing courts to prohibit convicted animal abusers from owning or living in the same household as an animal, or even from having contact with an animal. This year, seven states have created or strengthened their possession ban statutes.
The bottom tier of states which have held the last postition for 12 consecutive years are: North Carolina (36), Georgia (37), Alabama (38), Alaska (39), South Carolina (40), Hawaii (41), Idaho (42), Montana (43), North Dakota (44), and Utah (45). The last five states on the list are New Mexico (46), Wyoming (47), Iowa (48), Mississippi (49), and Kentucky (50).
These changes and others are a part of a broader evolution in animal law. As noted in the 2018 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has found that the scope and depth of animal protection laws have changed dramatically since the first state Rankings Report was published.
“Every year, we see more states enacting broader legal protections for animals. This tremendous progress is detailed in the Rankings Report,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a statement. “We have a long way to go until animals are fully protected under the legal system as they deserve, especially in the lowest-ranked states but elsewhere as well, and that’s why we fight so hard in our legal work for animals. But as this year’s Rankings Report shows, step by step we as a nation are improving how the law treats animals.”
The full report, including details about each state, can be found HERE!