Humane Society releases ranking of state animal protection laws
The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, has released its second annual "Humane State Ranking," a comprehensive report rating all 50 states on a wide range of animal protection laws dealing with pets, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife, animals in research, horses and farm animals.
Minnesota didn't fare so well, ranking 30th in animal protection.
Last year, California topped the list, followed by New Jersey, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts. This year, Illinois moved into 3rd place, due to passage of a raft of important animal protection measures during the 2010 legislative session, including bills to prohibit the keeping of primates as pets and to protect animals from antifreeze poisoning. Massachusetts slipped to 4th place.
Also making great strides were Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska. Oklahoma--one of the top three puppy-producing states in the country--gained major points for passing a comprehensive puppy mill bill in 2010, and also passed legislation protecting pets in domestic violence situations and for allowing the creation of pet trusts. Louisiana, which was the last state to ban cockfighting in 2006, strengthened its laws for spectators of cockfights. And Alaska gained points for making egregious acts of cruelty a felony on the first offense and for closing a loophole that allowed the possession of chimpanzees as pets.
"Our Humane State Ranking provides a big-picture look at how states are faring on animal-protection policies, and how they rank in the nation," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "There are some states that are adopting innovative and strong policies to protect animals, while others are lagging badly."
In 2010, The HSUS helped pass 97 new laws and regulations to protect animals and helped to defeat dozens of other harmful measures.
At the bottom of the list, the states with the weakest animal protection laws are Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota, with South Dakota ranking last with a score of eight out of 65. Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota got low marks in part because they are the only four states in the country with no felony penalty for egregious acts of animal cruelty. Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota are also among the 11 states that do not have felony-level penalties for cockfighting. Ohio is expected to move up in the ranking if the state follows through with a series of eight reforms advanced by The HSUS and agricultural groups in the state to deal with cockfighting, puppy mills, exotic pets, and factory farming issues.
The ranking was based on 65 different animal protection issues in 10 major animal protection categories including: animal fighting; animal cruelty; puppy mills; use of animals in research; equine protection; wildlife abuse; factory farming; fur and trapping; exotic animals; and companion animal laws.
To see the 2010 Humane State Rankings, go to