Do you live in Illinois, Maine, California, Michigan or Oregon? Smile, if so, because your state came out on top of a much-publicized list of states.
And if you live in Kentucky, North Dakota, Iowa, South Dakota, or New Mexico, your state is getting some negative publicity, even to the point of a charge that the are 2012's five best states to live in if you are an animal abuser, according to the latest report released by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).
Why do people say that? Because those states have the lowest penalties for animal-related crimes. Or, they have no penalties at all.
Two towns ten miles apart but in two different states could have dramatic differences in whether a given animal welfare violation is a misdemeanor or a felony. Some states are lenient, some are strict, and some might have no law on the books for that treatment of an animal at all.
The ALDF ratings are for overall animal laws, and are not specific to horse welfare.
Once again, Kentucky was named the worst state in the nation for animal-friendly laws, which may also be interpreted through the lens of the severity of penalties for breaking laws related to animals.
This is an annual report, and the rankings might surprise you, year after year. Following a detailed comparative analysis of the animal protection laws of each state in the country, ALDF releases a report ranking all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories for the general comprehensiveness and relative strength of their respective animal protection laws.
The report analyzes more than 4,000 pages of statutes, tracks fifteen broad categories of provisions, and reveals the states where animal law has real teeth?and calls out those, like Kentucky (the single worst state in the nation for animal protection laws, for the sixth year in a row) where animal abusers get off easy.
On the other end of the spectrum, this year's "best five states for animals" list includes Illinois, Maine, California, Michigan, and Oregon; ALDF determinted that those states demonstrated the strongest commitments to combating animal cruelty through their laws.
For the fifth consecutive year, Illinois was the very best of the best for the strength of its laws protecting animals. The states with biggest changes include Kansas, whose "ag gag" law caused it to drop from 6 to 13, and Idaho, which enacted its first felony provisions and improved from 52 to 44.
The full report, including a rankings map, chart, and overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the animal protection laws of the best and worst states, is available at aldf.org/staterankings.
For more information, and to download ALDF's "Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and Canada" compendium (on which the report is based), visit?aldf.org/animallaws.