Special Report

America's Best and Worst States for Pets

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1. Illinois
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment and $25,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 51.8% (6th lowest)

Illinois ranked as the best state for animal protection laws for the 12th consecutive year, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund ranking. The state imposes felony penalties for cruelty, neglect, fighting, abandonment, and sexual assault of animals.

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2. Oregon
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment and/or $125,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 63.6% (4th highest)

Inspired by an idea from a fifth-grade class in Beaverton, Oregon, the state passed a law effective Jan. 1 that requires research laboratories to place dogs and cats in shelters if they are no longer needed for research.

3. Colorado
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 3 years prison and/or $1,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 61.3% (13th highest)

Colorado lawmakers are weighing a bill that would forbid animal shelters and rescue facilities from euthanizing pets because of a lack of space. The measure would allow the euthanizing of pets under certain circumstances such as health and behavioral issues.

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4. Maine
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment and/or $5,000 fine, plus $10,000 fine and other sanctions
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 62.9% (5th highest)

Maine passed legislation in 2019 that mandates possession bans for those convicted of animal cruelty. Possession ban prevents convicted animal abusers from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal for a specific time period.

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5. Rhode Island
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment or $1,000 fine, and treble civil damages if animal owned by another and 50 hours community service
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 53.0% (10th lowest)

Rhode Island returned to the top five states for animal protection law in the latest Animal Legal Defense Fund rankings. The nation’s smallest state has felony penalties for violations such as cruelty, neglect, and fighting and a mandatory ban on ownership and possession of some animals after conviction.