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States with the best and worst animal protection laws

  • States with the best and worst animal protection laws

    Animal cruelty is considered a crime in all 50 states, though the extent to which it is prosecuted varies by state. The FBI uses animal cruelty to identify potential and known criminals, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles website. Cruelty to animals is also classified in the DSM-IV by the American Psychiatric Association as a sign of a conduct disorder, often appearing by age 8. Unfortunately, these factors do not combine to create more stringent laws in all the states of the union, but state law enforcement agencies rarely recognize the importance of such laws despite clear scientific evidence that young animal abusers can develop into criminals later in life.

    As far as enforcement goes, this is generally left to the local police force, though humane investigators may have law enforcement powers as well. However, as stated by John Paul Fox on the Utah Humane Society’s website, there are few humane investigators employed by local SPCAs and humane societies; in fact, Fox is the only humane investigator employed by the state of Utah.

    Stacker used data from the Animal Legal Defense Fund to examine which states in the U.S. have the most lenient and the most comprehensive laws against animal cruelty and how well those laws are enforced by police or humane investigators. The advocacy organization took into account more than 3,400 pages of state statutes to determine how states stack up in 19 different categories of animal-protection laws. Five of these categories are shown in this article, and more detailed laws are available through the ALDF for each state.

    Read on to find out why this problem, which deserves more attention than it is being given, is often overlooked by law enforcement agencies and where your animals will be the safest under the law.

    You may also like:  25 jobs where you get to work with animals

  • #50. Kentucky

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: No
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Prohibited
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: No law about it
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: None
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: None
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-Kentucky-2018.pdf

    Kentucky has the most lenient laws in the U.S. for animal protection. Among these laws is a lack of provisions for mandatory veterinary reporting of animal cruelty; in fact, such reporting is prohibited in Kentucky, the only one of the 50 states to do so. There are also no laws about leaving animals locked in a hot car and about mandating psych evaluations for animal abusers.

  • #49. Mississippi

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: Yes
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Permissive
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: No law about it
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: Permissive
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: Permissive
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-Mississippi-2018.pdf

    Mississippi ranks second only to Kentucky in terms of the worst five states; here, veterinarians may report suspected cruelty to animals, which is a slight improvement over its complete prohibition in Kentucky. Another improvement is the fact that the state has legal repercussions for those who sexually abuse animals.

  • #48. Iowa

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: Yes
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Permissive
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: No law about it
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: Mandatory
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: None
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-Iowa-2018.pdf

    Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers are mandatory in the third-worst state for animal protection in the country, Iowa. Unfortunately, those convicted of animal abuse may still own animals. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa also has a full-time animal abuse intervention coordinator on staff who serves in an investigative capacity, and the organization seeks to educate the public to recognize and report signs of abuse.

  • #47. Wyoming

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: No
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Permissive
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: No law about it
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: None
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: Permissive
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-Wyoming-2018.pdf

    In Wyoming, there are no laws about leaving animals locked in a hot car, nor are there laws criminalizing the sexual assault of animals. However, courts may order forfeiture of abused animals.

  • #46. New Mexico

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: No
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Permissive
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: No law about it
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: Mandatory
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: None
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-New-Mexico-2018.pdf

    In New Mexico, the best of the “worst five” states, there is mandatory forfeiture of abused animals upon conviction, taking the law from Wyoming one step further. Mental health evaluations for offenders are mandatory as well. There is also an animal cruelty hotline for concerned citizens and a network of safe havens called CARE for animals of domestic violence victims.

  • #45. Utah

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: Yes
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Permissive
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: No law about it
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: Permissive
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: Permissive
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-Utah-2018.pdf

    Utah Humane Society offers a comprehensive outline of the complaints it can manage on its website, including animals who have been left without basic needs such as food, water, or shelter, or those who have been beaten and abused. The UHS also offers a list of complaints it does not handle, including barking or crying dogs, at-large animals, and one animal killing or injuring another without human involvement, with referrals to the appropriate state and local agencies.

  • #44. North Dakota

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: Yes
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Mandatory
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: Law enforcement can rescue
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: None
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: None
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-North-Dakota-2018.pdf

    North Dakota is the first state on this list to include a provision for law enforcement to rescue animals locked inside a hot car; the previous states did not have laws about it. In addition, that veterinary reporting of suspected abuse is mandatory is a major improvement over many of the states listed thus far, especially over Kentucky, which prohibits such reporting completely.

  • #43. Montana

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: Yes
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Permissive
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: No law about it
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: None
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: Permissive
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-Montana-2018.pdf

    In Montana, where laws are more lax (no court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers, for example), pets are defined as “property.” This limits their rights in the eyes of the law; furthermore, the state veterinarian’s office only deals with abuse of livestock, not pets such as cats or dogs, and the law states that an animal may be killed for “just cause,” which is vague.

  • #42. Idaho

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: Yes
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Permissive
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: No law about it
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: Mandatory
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: None
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-Idaho-2018.pdf

    The Idaho Humane Society offers a list of complaints it will respond to on its website including animal cruelty and neglect, barking dogs, or dogs at large. This agency works in tandem with local law enforcement agencies and its own animal care and control division to address concerns about animal cruelty.

  • #41. Hawaii

    - State has laws criminalizing sexual assault of animals: No
    - Veterinary reporting of animal cruelty: Permissive
    - Leaving animal locked in hot car: No law about it
    - Court-ordered psych evaluations for animal abusers: None
    - Post-conviction animal possession bans: Mandatory
    - More detailed state animal protection laws: https://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Animal-Protection-Laws-of-Hawaii-2018.pdf

    Hawaii’s Humane Society takes things a step further than agencies that list the concerns; they will respond to by citing specific laws regarding animal cruelty on its website. The laws are broken into county, state, and federal categories and provide additional authority to the organization’s enforcement efforts.

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