DETROIT - Following a detailed comparative analysis of the animal protection laws of each state in the country, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has released a new 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.
Michigan received high marks for defending animals.
Based on a detailed comparative analysis of more than 4,000 pages of statutes, tracking fourteen broad categories of provisions, the report, the longest-running and most authoritative of its kind, calls out the states where animal abusers get off easy and recognizes those, like Michigan, where animal law has real teeth.
Along with Michigan, Illinois, California, Maine, and Oregon have the best laws on behalf of animals.
In the doghouse are Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho, South Dakota, and Iowa -- which ranked as the five "best states to be an animal abuser."
Why are Michigan anti-cruelty laws something to wag about? Among other strengths in its animal protection laws according to the report, the Great Lakes State has felony penalties for cruelty, neglect, abandonment, and sexual assault of animals, statutory standards of basic care for animals, and increased penalties for repeat offenders and in cases involving multiple animals.
In addition, Michigan humane agents have broad law enforcement authority, and the court may order counseling and restrictions on future ownership of animals for abusers. Meanwhile, ALDF's report also recommends areas of improvement for animal protection laws in Michigan, including mandatory reporting of suspected animal cruelty by veterinarians, allowing domestic violence protective orders to include animals, enhanced penalties for animal abusers with prior domestic violence offenses and for those who abuse animals in the presence of children, and a statewide animal abuser registry.
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.
Since ALDF's first rankings report in 2006, more than half of all states and territories have experienced a significant improvement in their animal protection laws. "We are very optimistic for additional progress in the upcoming year," says Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund's director of legislative affairs and author of the report. "Regardless of where each jurisdiction currently ranks, every state and territory has ample room for improvement, and we urge lawmakers to heed the call for better animal protection laws across the nation. Animals do not vote, but those who love them definitely do."
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