Special Report

America's Best and Worst States for Pets

36. Alaska
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment and/or $50,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: N/A

Alaska passed a law that requires divorce court judges to consider the well-being of pets when the judge weighs the decision over which spouse keeps the animals.

Source: gsbarclay / Getty Images

37. Montana
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 2 years in prison and/or $2,500 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 61.3% (13th highest)

Montana improved its rank on the latest ALDF list from 43 to 37. Montana now requires defendants in animal cruelty cases to post a bond to cover the costs of care, such as medical expenses of the animal, if cruelty is proved.

Source: YinYang / Getty Images

38. Hawaii
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5 years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: N/A

Hawaii is one of four states that does not have a law prohibiting the sexual assault of animals, according to the ALDF.

Source: JillLang / Getty Images

39. North Carolina
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 5-6 months imprisonment and/or fine at the discretion of the court
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: Yes
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 56.4% (22nd lowest)

The maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty against an animal in North Carolina is the lightest of any state. The punishment is five to six months in prison and/or a fine determined by the court.

Source: Oleh_Slobodeniuk / Getty Images

40. Georgia
> Maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty: 10 years prison and/or $100,000 fine
> Animals may be included in domestic violence protective orders: No
> Mandatory reporting by veterinarian: No
> Households owning pets: 55.1% (18th lowest)

Though Georgia ranks among the worst states for pets — animal cruelty and fighting are the only felonies in Georgia — some in the state are trying to improve conditions. Georgia held its first state pet adoption day last March to bring awareness for greater animal protection rules. In early 2019, the state Department of Agriculture began an internal review to improve protections for animals..

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