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February 09, 2010

Where Does Your State Stand on Animal Protection?

Reception for new California Animal Protection Caucus
Axiom Photo Design
With The HSUS's Jennifer Fearing, left, and Calif. caucus members.

Last night, I was in Sacramento for a reception to announce the formation of the new California Animal Protection Caucus, modeled after the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. A legislative caucus consists of a group of lawmakers with a common concern about an issue—in this case, animal cruelty and other matters relating to the protection of animals. The California caucus, like the Congressional one, is bipartisan, and last night the co-chairs were on hand for the reception—Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter), Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark), and Assemblymembers Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) and Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita).

We announced the California caucus on the day we released a comprehensive set of rankings on where the states stand on animal protection policies—examining 65 policy ideas on animal protection and counting up which states had them on the books. California came in at the top of the list, scoring 45, on the scale of 65. New Jersey was second with 41, followed by Colorado (38), Maine (38), and Massachusetts (38).

The Humane Society of the United States Humane State Ranking
The HSUS
Click to see a U.S. map of the Humane State Ranking.

Unfortunately, South Dakota was at the bottom of the list, with a score of 8, followed by Idaho (9), North Dakota (13), Mississippi (13), and then four states tied for fifth worst at 17—Alabama, Hawaii, Missouri, and Ohio.

The poor scores for Ohio and Missouri really stand out for me. And that’s one reason why The HSUS along with a raft of other organizations have launched ballot initiatives in Ohio and Missouri, given the anemic state of their animal protection laws. The Ohio measure seeks to address particularly inhumane treatment of farm animals, including lifelong confinement of animals in small cages, the abuse of downer cows, and the inhumane methods of killing pigs and cows on farms. The Missouri measure tackles the problem of puppy mills—with that state having more than 3,000 mills.

It’s important to remember that these are not static lists. States can and do improve, but only through concerted action. Take a look and see how your state ranks. Every state has room for improvement, and it’s our goal to see that all states do better when it comes to protecting the weak and the vulnerable.

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