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It’s time to celebrate the states that are making strides in animal welfare! The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the leading legal advocacy organization for animals, has just released its 17th annual U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Ranking Report for 2022. This report ranks all 50 states based on their animal protection laws, and the results are in: Maine has claimed the top spot for the third year in a row!

The ranking report is based on a comprehensive review of each state’s animal protection laws, covering over 3,000 pages of statutes. This annual report is the longest-running and most authoritative of its kind, tracking which states are taking animal protection seriously. Illinois came in second, followed by Oregon, Colorado, and Rhode Island. On the other end of the spectrum, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama, Idaho, and Utah were ranked as the states with the weakest animal protection laws.

While there’s always room for improvement, it’s worth highlighting the states that have made significant progress in the past year. Maryland, for example, rose four spots in the rankings, from 32nd to 28th place. The state recently passed several new animal protection laws, including one that allows courts to order the forfeiture of cruelly treated animals and another that bans the declawing of cats. Declawing is a painful surgery that can lead to physical and psychological issues for the animal.

Another trend highlighted in the ranking report is the inclusion of animals in protection orders. Domestic violence is a devastating problem, and unfortunately, animals are often used as tools of abuse. Offenders will threaten to harm or kill animals to control or psychologically abuse their guardians. Including animals in protection orders allows survivors of domestic violence to flee safely, while also ensuring the safety of their beloved pets. Connecticut, Kentucky, Utah, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico are just a few of the jurisdictions that have enacted or strengthened existing animal protection orders in 2022.

“Animal protection laws are critical to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, who often do not receive the respect and consideration they deserve under the law,” says Kera Melrose, ALDF’s Chief Programs Officer. “The ALDF’s annual Rankings Report provides a consistent measurement of legislative progress for animals nationwide and state to state. Regardless of where a state falls in the rankings, there is always room for improvement.”

So, what can you do to help make a difference for animals in your state? The first step is to educate yourself on your state’s animal protection laws and to voice your Support for stronger animal welfare legislation

You can also Support organizations like the ALDF, which work tirelessly to improve the lives of animals through the legal system. Check out the full report, including details about each state, at Let’s continue to make pawsitive progress for our furry friends!

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