January 6, 2014
2013 Ranking of State Animal Protection Laws Released
In the fifth annual “Humane State Ranking” report released by The Humane Society of the United States, California held onto first place while South Dakota has the weakest animal protection laws in the nation. The comprehensive analysis of animal protection laws in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., grades states on the strength of a wide range of animal protection laws, including policies dealing with animal cruelty and fighting, pets, wildlife, equines, animals in research, and farm animals.
California stayed on top for the fifth year in a row, strengthening its position by becoming the first state to enact a statute to phase out the use of lead ammunition by hunters – which poisons extraordinary numbers of wild animals. West Virginia was the most improved state, leaping ahead in the ranks by passing laws to regulate puppy mills and support spay/neuter programs.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said: “Animal protection is a core value of our society, and the states’ laws must reflect this sensibility. We applaud all the states that passed important protections for animals last year, and urge lawmakers to continue making animal issues a priority in 2014, especially the states that are lagging.”
Other top states are Oregon, which moved up to second place this year by passing laws to ban horse tripping and place limits on chaining dogs outside; Illinois (third place) for passing a pet lemon law to protect consumers from buying sick puppies at pet stores; Massachusetts (tied for fourth place); and New York, which jumped from seventh to tie for fourth for passing a ban on shark fin products and outlawing captive hunts from stocking invasive wild pigs.
South Dakota earned the lowest score (51st place), partly because it is the only state without a felony-level penalties for malicious cruelty. Other states near the bottom include Idaho and Mississippi (both tied for 49th place), North Dakota (48th place) and Alabama and South Carolina (both tied for 46th place).
In 2013, The HSUS helped pass 107 new laws and regulations to protect animals and helped to defeat a number of harmful measures such as “ag-gag” laws that would suppress whistleblowers at industrial factory farms.
The ranking was based on 75 different animal protection issues in 10 major animal protection categories including: animal fighting; animal cruelty; wildlife abuse; exotic pets; companion animals; use of animals in research; farm animals; fur and trapping; puppy mills, and equine protection.
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