Special Report

America's Best and Worst States for Pets

Source: john500 / Getty Images

6. Massachusetts
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 10 years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fine (for subsequent offenses)
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 50.4% (the lowest)

A bill has been proposed in Massachusetts that would penalize dog owners who misrepresent their pets as service animals.

Source: Joel Carillet / Getty Images

7. Louisiana
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 10 years imprisonment (with or without hard labor) and/or $25,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 55.1% (18th lowest)

The maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty to an animal in Louisiana is 10 years imprisonment, with or without hard labor, and/or $25,000 fine.

Source: Mlenny / Getty Images

8. California
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 3 years imprisonment and/or $20,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 52.9% (8th lowest)

In January of 2019, California became the first state in the nation to pass a law that requires pet stores to sell only animals from shelters or rescue organizations. Stores can be fined $500 for every animal they sell that is not a rescue animal.

9. Washington
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years state prison and/or $10,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 62.7% (6th highest)

A new law enacted in Wasington this year prohibits municipalities from restricting certain dog breeds and puts the focus on a dog’s behavior and not its breed. These restrictions had often targeted breeds like pit bulls and rottweilers that are stereotyped as dangerous dog breeds. The dog must complete the American Kennel Club’s Canine Citizen program or a similar test that is provided by a Washington city or county. The program assesses whether a dog reacts aggressively to strangers while being petted or when it encounters other animals.

Source: Maksymowicz / Getty Images

10. Florida
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment and/or $5,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 54.4% (16th lowest)

Just over half of households in Florida have pets. A study from the University of Florida found that pet dogs provide important social support to children when the kids are under stress. The children in the study were between 7 and 12 years old.