Best and worst states for animal protection laws in 2011

Yesterday, CatTime.com reported on Lucky, an abused cat in Kentucky. The Animal Legal Defense Fund ranked the Bluegrass State 50th — last — in terms of animal protection laws in a 2011 report.

ALDF’s rankings of the 50 states for 2011 (click on image for larger size).

The 2011 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings examined the animal protection laws in all 50 states, and based their findings on a host of criteria, including felony penalties, mental health evaluations for offenders, and mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction.

“These annual reports identify what each state and territory is doing with respect to their animal protection laws,” report author Stephan Otto says. “Since ALDF began publishing these rankings in 2006, there has been a marked advance in the laws of many states and territories.”

State rankings for animal protection laws
2006: 2007: 2008:
Best: Worst: Best: Worst: Best: Worst:
California Hawaii California Arkansas California Arkansas
Illinois Idaho Illinois Alaska Illinois Idaho
Maine Kentucky Maine Kentucky Maine Kentucky
Michigan North Dakota Michigan North Dakota Michigan Mississippi
Oregon Utah Oregon Utah Oregon North Dakota
2009: 2010: 2011:
Best: Worst: Best: Worst: Best: Worst:
Illinois Kentucky Illinois Iowa Illinois South Dakota
Maine North Dakota Maine Mississippi Maine Iowa
Michigan Hawaii Michigan Idaho Michigan Idaho
Oregon Idaho Oregon North Dakota Oregon North Dakota
California Mississippi California Kentucky California Kentucky

Source: Animal Legal Defense Fund U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings

In each annual study, the same states have ranked in the top five, or “best” — California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, and Oregon; conversely, Kentucky and North Dakota have consistently ranked in the bottom five, or “worst.”

Regarding Kentucky, the 2011 report claims it is also the only state in the bottom five that prohibits veterinarians from reporting suspected dog fighting and cruelty.

“We are very optimistic for additional progress in the upcoming year,” Otto states. “Nevertheless, even as many jurisdictions are making substantial steps forward, others are unfortunately not. Yet, irrespective of where each jurisdiction currently ranks, every state and territory has ample room for improvement.”

Keep in mind the report is based on each state’s existing lawsnot the conditions of its animal shelters or conduct of rescue groups and organizations. The full 2011 ALDF document is available at the Animal Legal Defense fund website.