In May this year, Washington’s governor signed into law the strongest legislative protections for egg-laying hens anywhere in the world. Nevada became the second state in the country, after California, to pass a law banning cosmetics testing on animals. And New Mexico passed a law banning coyote killing contests. These are just a few examples of the victories we championed for animals in the 2019 state legislative session. Altogether this year, we’ve helped pass 139 new state laws and local ordinances. We’ve seen an additional 17 bills pass two chambers and 32 pass their first chamber. We have helped defeat 70 bad bills that would hurt animals. And we are looking forward to more wins as legislative sessions continue around the country. These laws and bills cover a wide range of animal protection issues, reflective of the work we do to protect all animals. Some of the highlights of our 2019 state legislative successes include: Animals in research:

  • In addition to the law passed in Nevada banning the sale of cosmetics newly tested on animals, there is a bill on the Illinois governor’s desk that would do the same.
  • Washington and Oregon became the 10th and 11th states in the country to encourage research facilities to offer dogs and cats for adoption. A similar bill has been introduced in Michigan.
  • In Louisiana, a bill to limit pound seizure (animals at shelters being sold for research) was signed into law.
Minnesota passed a law banning the sale of ivory and rhino horn.
Photo by Zwilling330/

 Ending trophy hunting, killing contests and wildlife trafficking:

  • In addition to New Mexico banning coyote killing contests, Maryland extended a ban on cownose ray killing contests that first passed in 2017. A bill to ban the trophy hunting of bobcats has passed the California assembly and now moves to the state senate.
  • The New York state legislature passed a bill that would designate giraffes as a vulnerable species and ban trafficking in their body parts, thus leading the way toward saving this beleaguered species that is fast heading toward extinction. The bill is now awaiting the governor’s signature.
  • Minnesota passed a law banning the sale of ivory and rhino horn.
  • California’s 2013 law that phased out the use of lead ammunition for hunting wildlife went into full effect July 1.

Fighting puppy mills:

  • Our work to end the scourge of puppy mills forged ahead with 16 localities around the country joining 293 others that have already banned the sale of all commercially bred puppies in pet stores. Two states, California and Maryland, also prohibit such sales, and there is now a similar bill on the Maine governor’s desk. A bill has also passed one chamber of the Rhode Island statehouse.

Ending animal cruelty:

  • Fourteen localities and Virginia passed humane standards for dogs who live outdoors.
  • Maryland and Montana passed laws to assist law enforcement with the cost of care for animals seized in cruelty and fighting cases.
  • Colorado, Indiana and Maine passed laws to restrict the future ownership of animals by individuals convicted of animal cruelty. Indiana also passed a law that amends definitions in the animal cruelty code to better protect animals and specifies that animal care programs, humane societies and animal shelters run by governmental entities may only end an animal’s life by humane euthanasia.
  • Kentucky and Maryland made the sexual abuse of animals a crime.
  • New York passed a bill ending the declawing of cats. The bill is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Maryland and Montana passed laws to assist law enforcement with the cost of care for animals seized in cruelty and fighting cases.
Photo by Kendra Stanley-Mills/AP Images for the HSUS

 Banning fur:

  • A bill banning fur sales in California has passed the first chamber of the state legislature. Last year, Los Angeles and San Francisco passed similar bans and such ordinances are likely to pass in other localities across the country.

While the proactive bans on harmful practices are vital for the animals, some of the most pressing work involves fighting off opposition from powerful lobbies attempting to roll back the progress made on animal protection issues. This year alone, there were 17 legislative attempts to restrict our work on puppy mill legislation. Petland, the national pet store chain that has been the subject of three HSUS investigations over the past year for its poor treatment of animals at its stores and for sourcing from puppy mills, has been responsible for several legislative attempts to stymie our work to end puppy mills. In 2019 alone, Petland was behind six state bills introduced in legislatures in Nebraska, Tennessee, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kansas and Alabama. We defeated each one of them. State legislatures in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Montana, Maryland and Kentucky attempted to introduce “working animal” bills to preempt localities from enacting regulations on animals used in entertainment, dogs used for breeding, law enforcement animals and carriage horses, among others. We helped defeat these bills too. One of the biggest reasons for these successes is our network of talented and dedicated state directors and volunteers. These individuals are our eyes and ears in the states, and animals couldn't ask for better allies. Each legislative session, these state directors and volunteers work with partner organizations to advance our program work and our policy goals, and as you can see, the work they do together translates into real and tangible successes for animals. There are many opportunities for animal advocates like you to work with us on a wide variety of animal protection issues in your states. To learn more about how you can join the fight to protect all animals, and make more of these great victories possible, click here to get involved with our work as a volunteer, or as a citizen advocate.