Special Report

America's Best and Worst States for Pets

John Harrington

Regardless of how strong or weak the economy is, Americans will always spend money on their pets. The American Pet Products Association estimates that in 2019 Americans spent $75.4 billion on items related to pets such as food, veterinarian care, supplies, toys, and medicine, an increase of 3.9% from 2018.

As much as Americans love their pets, legal protections for our animal companions vary from state to state. Though 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 Tempo reviewed the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s “2019 U.S. Animal Protection Laws State Rankings.” The ALDF evaluated state animal protection laws, including the penalties for animal abuse, reporting requirements, offender registration laws, general prohibitions such as prohibition of animal fighting, among other issues.

Click here to see America’s worst state for pets.

In the past year, we’ve seen efforts by several states to curb the practices of puppy mills, which are unlicensed shelters that house animals in inhumane conditions and then sell the animals to pet stores. States are also toughening animal cruelty legislation. 

There were 5,201 cases of animal cruelty reported to the FBI in 2018. The agency started collecting animal cruelty data in 2016. It is likely the actual number of animal cruelty cases is much higher. Companies such as pet food businesses and beer makers are providing perks and incentives to adopt rescue animals, and some states are trying to make rescue dogs the official state pet. Here are 25 reasons rescue dogs are the best pets.

Methodology:

To identify the best and worst states for pets, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) “2019 U.S. Animal Protection Laws State Rankings.” We used the ALDF’s rank, which evaluates state animal protection laws as well as the penalties for animal abuse, the reporting requirements for veterinarians, offender registration laws, general prohibitions, and much more. The number of pet-owning households came from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, and the incidents of animal cruelty by state came from the FBI National Incident-Based Reporting System for 2017.