(LEX 18)– 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.