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The Best and the Worst Animal Welfare Ratings by State

By       Message Suzana Megles     Permalink
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Anyone who is interested in how their state fares re animal welfare issues will find them here. The HSUS has studied the issues in each state from which they derived their ratings.


I hope you are as anxious to see how your state ranks re animal
concerns as many of us were. The Humane Society of the US recently
sent us their rankings, and so I will share them with anyone who
is interested.
Re the ratings, I would like to congratulate the people of California
for having the top score of 74 per cent. No surprise to many of us
who watch animal welfare issues, and often find California leading
in compassionate animal legislation.
Sadly, one state has to be at the bottom, and South Dakota has that
dubious distinction with a rank of only 14 per cent. Alicia Graef's
post on Care2 described reasons for this very poor ranking. Her post
made me realize that it should be shared with others as well as the
rankings for all the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
SCORE RANGE 58% - 74%
California-74% Massachusetts-64% Illinois-64% Oregon-62%
New Jersey-60% Maine-60% Arizona-58% Washington-58%
Colorado-58% Virginia -58% New York-58%
SCORE RANGE 42% - 54%
Vermont-54% New Hampshire-54% Connecticut-54% Florida-54%
Maryland-53% Pennsylvania-51% Rhode Island-49% Dist.of Columbia-49%
Louisiana-49% Michigan-49% Nevada-47% Iowa-45% Delaware-45%
Nebraska-43% Tennessee-43% Ohio-42%
SCORE RANGE 31% - 41%
New Mexico-41% Texas-41% Oklahoma-40% Minnesota-40% Georgia-39%
Kansas-38% Wisconsin-36% Indiana-35% Hawaii-35% Montana-35%
N.Carolina-32% W.Virginia-32% Alaska-31% Missouri-31% Utah-31%
SCORE RANGE 14% - 29%
Arkansas-29% Wyoming-28% Alabama-27% Kentucky-25%
S.Carolina-24% N.Dakota-22% Mississippi-20% Idaho-19% S.Dakota-14%
My first impression on reading this compilation was that no state had
a score of 100%. Perhaps that's an impossibility, but I do hope that
maybe one day a state in the future will get at least a 90% ranking-
making them a very compassionate state indeed. We can always hope.
Though I was disappointed in my home state of Ohio which ranked #27 on
this list- putting us almost in the middle - I hope that we will do
much better in the future. In reality, we have been showing progress
over the last few years, and for that I am grateful. Let's hope that
my state and yours too will continue to improve and even do better the
next time around.
Alicia Graef's post is titled "South Dakota is the Absolute Worst
State to be an Animal." Not only are they last on the HSUS ranking,
but the Animal Legal Defense Fund 2012 Animal Protection Law
Rankings also placed them in the bottom five states of their listing.
But it's not like there are no animal advocates in S.Dakota. T here is
a relatively new grassroots organization called South Dakotans
Fighting Animal Cruelty Together. How they must agonize each day in
their up hill struggle to fight for animal welfare in a state which
seems not to have embraced the concept that animals have basic needs
like the rest of us, and should be treated compassionately. We applaud
SDFACT and wish them success in their efforts to help animals. Their
task is not enviable- considering it seems the great lack of concern
generally for a nimals in their state.
I believe in the power of prayer, and will certainly add their
intentions to my prayer list. I hope others too will join me in this
S.Dakota was one of only a few states which had not enacted felony
penalties for certain acts of animal cruelty. So in 2008 -SDFACT and
all the animal advocates throughout S.Dakota worked together to have
their legislators introduce HB 1146 which would prohibit the torture
of animals and provide felony level penalties for the worst acts of
The bill was sponsored by these compassionate legislators: Representatives
Cutler, Krebs, Novstrup (David) Rausch, Schrempp and Senators Abdallah,
Dempster, Gillespie, and Gray. Sadly, when the bill was presented to
the House Judiciary Committee, Ag lobbyists prevailed, and convinced
the committee that the bill was too far reaching and could negatively
impact animal agriculture.
I hope that you were thinking as I -that a "far reaching bill which
would 'negatively' impact animal agriculture" was exactly which was
needed. It would be a blessing for the farm animals. There is a lot
of animal suffering in CAFOs where workers sometimes brutalize these
innocent animals for little or no reasons.
Mercy for Animals had a video recently showing a worker socking a
cow in the face as she objected to him pulling away and dragging
her new born calf across the floor. I winced seeing this cruelty,
and my heart bled for this dear mother cow who only wanted to be
with her calf. Yes, cows are mothers too, and they have the same
natural instincts of all mothers- be they human or animal. When will
we recognize this simple truth and their need to bond with their
babies? I have no respect for a worker who would hurt an innocent
farm animal unable to defend herself. And kudos to the people who
have "weaned" themselves from the milk of an animal when there are
so many delicious alternatives like soy and almond milk to name too.
SDFACT even tried to get passed legislation which would protect just
companion animals. But the legislation which would make torturing
cats and dogs a felony was blocked again by Ag groups. And this group
was even able to get passed a resolution that opposed any attempt for
any ballot initiatives by animal advocacy groups that could potentially
"undermine the livelihood of agricultural producers." What kind of
legislators do the people of S. Dakota have anyway to allow this group
to dictate what ballot initiatives should or should not be introduced?
But animal advocates refuse to play dead because of the unfair moves
of the Ag community. They are now working on a bill which would
protect companion animals in the state from violent abusers -which
specifically exempts agricultural practices in the hope that it will
not be opposed this time.
And it is their compassionate voices in this regard which hopefully
will carry the day:
"There is no reason S.Dakota should be the only state in the country
where it is okay for an individual to violently kick a Chihuahua until
it's unconscious and seizing; to beat a pet cat to death with a hammer;
to bludgeon a prized hunting dog in its kennel; or to cut the ears off
a puppy with a steak knife and receive a sentence that amounts to that
of a speeding ticket. These acts are violent. They need to be treated
like real crimes. Malicious and intentional animal cruelty should be
a felony, it is just that simple."
Please God- bless the efforts of SDFACT- South Dakotans Fighting Animal
Cruelty Together. Their efforts are noble and just. Animals are God's
creatures too.


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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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