The longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, the 16th annual year-end Rankings Report (2021) assesses the relative strengths and weaknesses of each U.S. state’s and territory’s animal protection laws and ranks them accordingly. 

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New Mexico is preceded by Idaho (49), Mississippi (48), Alabama (47), and Utah (46) rounding out states with the weakest animal protection laws. Maine once again takes first place with the strongest state animal protection laws — followed by Illinois (2), Oregon (3), Colorado (4), and Rhode Island (5).

Idaho earned its 49th spot in the rankings because state lawmakers have yet to pass a number of important protections. For example, the state does not have any laws requiring or even explicitly permitting the court to prohibit a convicted offender from owning or residing with animals. Idaho also does not have any felony-level laws for first-time offenders who are convicted of beating or torturing an animal, nor does it have felony statutes for neglect or abandonment.

The legal organization advocates for states to pass laws to mandate that veterinarians report suspected animal cruelty cases. Another suggestion is that states pass laws that require training and certification of humane officers. Currently, there are only 16 states that have training programs for humane officers.

"It is vital that we continue to strengthen our animal protection laws as animals are some of the most vulnerable members of society and are too often subjected to cruel mistreatment,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. "The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s annual Rankings Report helps legislators and advocates identify weak points in their states’ laws — and highlight strong models that can be used to address those weaknesses."

'The rankings are based on a comprehensive review of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws, including over 3,000 pages of statutes.'

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