Special Report

America's Best and Worst States for Pets

31. Maryland
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 3 years imprisonment and/or $5,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 52.3% (7th lowest)

A federal judge in early February threw out a pet store owners’ challenge to the state of Maryland’s new ban on the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. The action was seen as a way to curb the sale of animals from so-called “puppy mills,” unlicensed and dirty shelters for pets.

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32. New York
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 2 years imprisonment and $5,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 50.6% (2nd lowest)

Legislators in Albany have sponsored a bill that would ban pet stores in New York from selling puppies, kittens, or bunnies in an attempt to halt the flow of dogs from illegal puppy mills from out of state.

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33. South Dakota
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years state penitentiary and $10,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 65.6% (3rd highest)

South Dakota ranks third in the nation for pet ownership, according to data from the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Animal cruelty, fighting, and sexual assualt are felonies in South Dakota.

34. Arkansas
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 10 years imprisonment and $10,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 62.4% (7th highest)

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill in April of 2019 that would make misrepresenting your pet as a service animal a misdemeanor and carry a $250 fine.

Source: Shoemcfly / Getty Images

35. Missouri
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 4 years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: Yes
> Households owning pets: 61.4% (12th highest)

Missouri state Rep. Chrissy Sommer filed a bill in February that would make misrepresenting a pet as a service dog or emotional support animal a misdemeanor.

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