Humane State

The three main pillars of the Humane State program are: Training for law enforcement and animal welfare workers, capacity-building for rescue groups and shelters and public outreach based on the specific needs of each community. By strengthening the front lines, empowering the sheltering and rescue community and increasing public awareness of animal issues, Humane State connects the dots between animal protection laws, the people who work on behalf of animals every day and the community as a whole.

Humane State will continue to support animal shelters, law enforcement and the rescue community with resources and training to improve animal welfare and provide law enforcement officers, prosecutors and state agencies with the tools and resources needed to strengthen and enforce laws and ordinances. Together, we are creating a paradigm shift in the animal welfare movement, establishing collaborative environments, promoting humane care for animals and supporting the people who devote their lives to animal welfare.

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Imagine what the Humane State program could do in your neighborhood. Help your state become a safer place for animals by donating today.

Rescuer kissing dog
Kendra Stanley-Mills / AP Images for The HSUS

Where we are

Born out of a need to address the lack of enforcement of existing state and local laws, Humane State was launched in 2015 to bring much needed education, awareness and support to law enforcement and the shelter and rescue communities. From its origins in Puerto Rico, Humane State soon after expanded to Oklahoma, Kansas, Ohio, Wisconsin and New Jersey. Could your state be next?

Humane States

Humane States emeritus

By the numbers
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PROFESSIONALS In law enforcement and animal welfare have been trained in animal protection issues.
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ATTENDEES From law enforcement and animal welfare benefited from our trainings in 2019.
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OF ATTENDEES Said they would recommend our trainings to their colleagues.

New Jersey

New Jersey ranks seventh in the HSUS state rankings and has a reputation as a leader the animal welfare movement, however, they are among the worst for actual enforcement of animal protection laws. Enforcement issues were so egregious that in 2018 the New Jersey State Legislature took action and created a new structure for enforcing animal cruelty laws. To support these efforts, working in partnership with the leading organizations and agencies in the state, the Humane State Program launched a three-year initiative in New Jersey in 2020.  

We are excited to offer the Humane State program in New Jersey starting in 2020. To ensure the safety of all participants in response to COVID-19, we launched with virtual options and look forward to regular in-person trainings when it is safe to do so.
Brian Hackett, HSUS New Jersey State Director


Wisconsin law suggests that municipalities “may” appoint a humane officer, but the lack of a clear mandate or funding means that most locations throughout the state have no one properly trained to respond to animal cruelty and neglect. While a state-based federation for animal sheltering and rescue professionals exists in Wisconsin, many groups remain isolated and deprived of critical resources. And in rural communities across the state, outdoor cat populations continue to explode, putting cats in harm’s way. Humane State’s ability to bring training, equipment and supplies to under-resourced communities will address Wisconsin’s most pressing animal welfare challenges.

I like the fact that the HSUS is traveling around the state so that everyone has a chance to attend these sessions.
Chuck Wegner, Director, Clark County Humane Society, WI
Humane State Director Darci Adams at Humane State Training in Ohio
Cat Lynch


Ohio, another major puppy mill location, passed a “puppy mill bill” in 2013, but enforcement remains a challenge as breeders skirt regulations by operating below the licensing threshold. In April of 2016, the Ohio high-volume commercial dog breeders’ advisory board included 890 premises on their "Action List"—properties they believe are engaged in breeding and have not yet been inspected. And Ohio continues to be well-represented in the HSUS’s Horrible Hundred list, which highlights a selection of egregious puppy mills operating in the United States. 

The presentation on FIV and FeLV was my favorite because I learned a ton that I didn't already know. But I loved every single presentation and feel I can take a lot back to our shelter, as well as throughout my career.
Kristine Keller, Wood County Humane Society
I really liked that the training was provided by Dr. Merck. As a veterinarian myself, it's nice to have a fellow veterinarian's perspective on cruelty/neglect and provide the knowledge important to veterinary exams, documentation, etc. I also liked the case examples discussed in the presentation.
Allison Finley, DVM, Humane Society of Greater Dayton


Kansas is one of the largest producers of puppy mill dogs in the country and has just four USDA inspectors to cover the entire state. To make matters worse, animal control officers in the state have limited access to training and resources. And while the Kansas state sheltering system has made incredible progress in recent years — banning gas chambers and death by gunshot, for example — many agencies are overrun with the burden of caring for seized and disposed puppy mill dogs. Through its law enforcement and shelter trainings, Humane State will connect the dots between animal protection laws and the people who enforce them.

The Humane State program encourages collaboration of those who work on behalf of animals in Kansas and that ultimately improves the enforcement of our animal protection laws.
Midge Grinstead, Kansas Senior State Director
Humane State Training in Kansas
Cat Lynch


Oklahoma has the dubious honor of being among five states with the greatest number of operational puppy mills. Weak enforcement of animal welfare laws — and a fragmented and disperse animal welfare network — discourages collaboration between shelters, rescues and law enforcement. In 2016, in partnership with the FBI, National Sheriffs’ Association, Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association, Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oklahoma Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, we launched our humane law enforcement training in cities across Oklahoma and have since trained officers from hundreds of law enforcement agencies on animal protection laws. 

The Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police is in support of the Humane Society of the United States for providing information and training to law enforcement in Oklahoma on the investigation of animal cruelty, abuse, dog fighting, cockfighting and puppy mills. More than 700 law enforcement personnel registered to attend the one-day classes at five different locations in the state, which clearly shows the need for this type training.
Chief Phil Cotten, Executive Director, Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police
Humane State training in Oklahoma
Cat Lynch
The training we have received from the HSUS has been some of the finest I have attended in my career. The emphasis on animal investigations and care has greatly assisted us. So much so that we were able to get two criminal cases filed last year (one felony, one misdemeanor), whereas in the past we probably would have never gotten them filed.
G. Music, Assistant Chief of Police, Chickasha Police

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s challenges are almost too numerous to mention: Hundreds of thousands of street dogs roaming freely, shelters under-resourced and overwhelmed, virtually no spay/neuter infrastructure, law enforcement uneducated about animal protection and virtually no animal protection measures in place. In 2015, the Humane Society of the United States decided to change this. We announced a partnership with the government of Puerto Rico to transform animal welfare on the island. Since that time, we have launched a targeted campaign to expand the capacity of animal welfare officers, extend spay/neuter services and provide shelters and rescues with training and educational resources. 

Our children see how we treat these beings. They can learn to love and care for them or to mistreat them. So if we want a better society tomorrow, we need to build it today.
César A. Miranda Rodríguez, Secretary of Justice, Puerto Rico