Special Report

America's Best and Worst States for Pets

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21. Nebraska
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 3 years imprisonment and 18 months post-release supervision and/or $10,000 fine (for subsequent offense)
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 51.3% (5th lowest)

Nebraska imposes felony penalties for cruelty, neglect, fighting, and abandonment of pets.

22. Kansas
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 days-1 year imprisonment and $500-$2,500 fine (for subsequent offenses)
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 61.0% (15th highest)

In 2018, Kansas passed a so-called hot-car measure that shields Good Samaritans who break into vehicles to save children and animals in danger of overheating from liability.

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23. Delaware
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 8 years imprisonment and fine determined by court
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 56.6% (23rd lowest)

In January, Delaware passed a law intended to protect dogs from life-threatening weather. The measure is intended to prevent dogs from being tied up for more than nine hours outdoors during extreme hot and cold weather. Delaware has the nation’s highest rate of animal cruelty in the country, at more than 113 reported offenses per 100,000 people.

24. Tennessee
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 6 years imprisonment and $3,000 fine (for subsequent offenses)
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 59.6% (17th highest)

The Tennessee Legislature is weighing a measure that would prevent those convicted of abusing animals from owning a pet for at least two years after they have been convicted of animal cruelty.

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25. Connecticut
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 1 to 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: 54.4% (16th lowest)

Connecticut passed a law in 2018 that protects Good Samaritans who forcibly enter vehicles to save children and animals in danger from liability.