CHICAGO, IL – It seems like every day another horrific story comes out about animals being abused, stolen or neglected. Just last week, animal rescuers in Georgia found more than 150 dogs on a property that were living in “extremely unsanitary conditions” and desperately needed help.
These stories often resonate with — and infuriate — readers. Dogs have no say when it comes to being tied to a tree in the freezing cold or locked inside a car that’s reaching 120 degrees.
A new report published Tuesday suggests some states have stronger animal protections than others. Illinois is one of them, according to a new report from the Animal Legal Defense Fund. The California-based nonprofit is dedicated to protecting animal lives and promoting their interests through the legal system.
Illinois ranks #1 in the country for animal protection, the organization found in its 13th annual report. The top tier consisted of states ranked between 1 and 15 and the middle tier consisted of states ranked between 16 and 35. The bottom tier contained all the rest. For the 11th straight year, Illinois topped the list with the best animal protection laws in the country, the report found. Oregon, Maine, Colorado, and Massachusetts rounded out the top five.
Here are the top 10:
- Rhode Island
Meanwhile, dogs and cats might want to stay away from the Southeast and parts of the Mountain States. Kentucky ranked dead last, followed by Mississippi, Iowa, Wyoming, and New Mexico. The Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama all ranked in the bottom tier, as well as Montana, Idaho, Utah and North Dakota.
The new report adds five new categories, including the definition of “animal,” courtroom animal advocate programs, laws that allow people to rescue dogs from hot cars, civil nuisance abatement, and breed-specific legislation.
“Every year, we see more states enacting broader legal protections for animals,” organization Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a release. He added: “We have a long way to go until animals are fully protected under the legal system as they deserve, especially in the lowest-ranked states but elsewhere as well, and that’s why we fight so hard in our legal work for animals. But as this year’s Rankings Report shows, step by step we as a nation are improving how the law treats animals.”
The report is the longest-running and “most authoritative” of its kind, the group said. Specifically, it assesses the strengths of each state’s animal protection laws by scrutinizing more than 3,400 pages of statutes. Every state was then ranked based on nineteen different categories.