Special Report

America’s Worst States for Pets

Most pet owners want nothing but the best for their pet. They spend hours with their animal friend indoors and out, buy them the best food and toys, and make sure they are healthy. Disturbingly, some people take far less good care of their pets — and in some cases neglect and cruelty are an issue. While all states have penalties for animal cruelty, some states make it a priority to ensure animals are safe in their homes, while others are less concerned about animal safety.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s “2017 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings.” The ALDF evaluated state animal protection laws, including the penalties for animal abuse, reporting requirements, offender registration laws, general prohibitions such as those of animal fighting, and so on.

There were 1,126 cases of animal cruelty reported to the FBI in 2016. Because the FBI only started collecting animal cruelty data in 2016, the data is not nationally representative. Pets can’t advocate for themselves, and the actual number of animal cruelty cases is likely far higher than published estimates.

The ALDF grouped state animal protection laws into 15 categories. In an email to 24/7 Wall St., Lora Dunn, director of ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program, highlighted several rules that support animal well-being: general prohibitions and penalties such as penalties for abuse, neglect, and abandonment; protective orders that may include pets — laws Dunn noted can help prevent domestic abuse; and mandatory veterinary reporting of animal abuse.

Click here to see the best and worst states for pets.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.