Kentucky ranked worst state for animal protection laws

COTATI, Ca. (WTVQ)- For the 12th year in a row, Kentucky ranks as the worst state for animal protection laws, according to the annual U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report published by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals. 

The longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, the 13th annual year-end Rankings Report (2018) assesses the relative strengths and weaknesses of each U.S. state’s and territory’s animal protection laws, and ranks them accordingly.

Kentucky is followed by Mississippi (49), Iowa (48), Utah (47), and New Mexico (46) rounding out states with the weakest animal protection laws. For the 11th year in a row, Illinois takes first place with the strongest state animal protection laws — followed by Oregon (2), Maine (3), Colorado (4), and Massachusetts (5). 

Kentucky earned its lowest spot in the rankings because state lawmakers have yet to pass a number of important, and increasingly universal, protections. For example, Kentucky is the only state that prohibits veterinarians from reporting suspected animal abuse. It is also one of just a handful of states with no prohibition of sexual assault of animals. Additionally, felony animal cruelty and animal fighting only covers limited species; and there are as yet no statutory provisions for post-conviction restitution or forfeiture, except in cases involving horses.

The report uses a new and improved rankings system, adding five new categories to our rankings methodology: the definition of “animal,” courtroom animal advocate programs, laws that allow individuals to rescue dogs from hot parked cars, civil nuisance abatement and breed-specific legislation. 

New trends highlighted in the Rankings Report include possession bans — a post-conviction remedy allowing courts to prohibit convicted animal abusers from owning or living in the same household as an animal, or even from having contact with an animal. This year, seven states have created or strengthened their possession ban statutes. 

These changes and others are part of a broader evolution in animal law. As noted in the 2018 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has found that the scope and depth of animal protection laws have changed dramatically in the 13 years since the first state Rankings Report was published.

The rankings are based on a comprehensive review of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws including over 3,000 pages of statutes. This is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, and tracks which states are taking animal protection seriously.

The full report, including details about each state, is available at  

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