The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) recently released their annual report which ranks U.S. states from best to worst at legally protecting animals against abuse and for the fourth year in a row Kentucky was named as the best state to be an animal abuser. Kentucky won the dubious honor due to the state's weak animal protection laws and failure to crack down on cockfighting rings.
North Dakota, Idaho, Mississippi and Iowa round out the list of shame as the five best states to be an animal abuser.
ADLF based the findings on research which examined more than 4000 pages of statutes and tracked 14 categories of provisions, determining which states have the most effective laws to both prevent and punish cruelty against animals. The five states with poor rankings generally do not have laws making animal abuse a felony; do not have laws against animal fighting and do not bar people convicted of animal abuse of owning animals in the future.
In the case of the four time winner Kentucky (or loser, depending on how you look at it) extreme animal neglect, cruelty or abandonment is not considered a felony by the state. Veterinarians in the state are prohibited from reporting suspected cruelty or fighting. In lieu of these lax provisions, cockfighting is still an accepted practice in the state, where it is only considered a misdemeanor.
The states that are cited as the best for legally protecting animals include Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon and California. These states have strict penalties for animal abusers as well as mandatory reporting of suspected animal cruelty by veterinarians. Courts in the five states can also order animal abusers to undergo counseling, and place restrictions on future ownership of animals by abusers.
Despite the presence of Sarah Palin running amok and killing various animals, the state of Alaska showed the most improvement in animal protection in the past year, moving from 44th last year to 37th overall.
See where your state ranked at aldf.org.
Photo credit: ALDF