The Animal Legal Defense Fund published a report that ranks Illinois at the top and Iowa near the bottom for animal protection laws.
The group bases its annual rankings on the strength and comprehensiveness of animal protection laws in each of the 50 states.
This was the eighth year the ALDF has issued the report.
Illinois and the other “best five” states on the report remained the same for the sixth consecutive year. Illinois ranked as the top state for animal protection. Oregon ranked second and Michigan ranked third best.
Oregon rose from fifth to second place in the rankings in part because the state elevated animal neglect a felony offense.
The ALDF says Iowa has a felony penalty in place for animal cruelty, but that wasn’t enough to elevate Iowa out of their list of the five worst states in the U.S. for animal protection. Iowa ranked number 49 out of 50 states on the list. When Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories are included in the list, Iowa ranked number 53 out of 56 total locations rated.
The ALDF report says Iowa ranks so low because of the “Ag Gag” law which makes it illegal to produce undercover videos showing animal cruelty in farming practices. The group thinks Iowa has inadequate definitions for the standards of basic care for animals and that the state’s penalties for animal abuse convictions lack strength. The ALDF report says Iowa does not require animal forfeiture or restricted future animal ownership after a conviction of animal neglect or abuse. The group also thinks Iowa laws concerning animal fighting, neglect and abandonment offenses should be stronger.
The ALDF ranks Illinois at the top for all criteria concerning animal protection laws, but they think there is still room for improvement. They’d like to see an animal abuser registry in Illinois, more power for law enforcement and humane agents and even stronger penalties for certain offenses.
In general, the ALDF report stated most states could improve laws to help recover costs associated with treating and placing animals recovered from abusive or neglectful situations.