There's a growing sense of late that the animals with whom we share our homes, our hearts and our planet are more than merely animate objects, but rather creatures worthy of our compassion. In recent years, great strides have been made in statehouses across the country to ensure that nonhumans are protected against the worst humanity has to offer.
But in some states, such as Kentucky - ranked worst in the nation - animal welfare laws are still woefully lacking.
For the ninth year in a row, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has analyzed thousands of data points regarding animal protection laws and enforcement to determine which states let animal abusers off the easiest.
"The bottom-tiered states have inadequate standards of basic care for animals, limited authority given to humane officers, and lack of mandatory reporting when veterinarians suspect animal cruelty," writes the ALDF in a press release.
Here are the five worst states to be an animal:
For the eighth year in a row, the ALDF has ranked Kentucky the very worst state for animal protection laws, pointing to a lack of felony provisions for cruelty and abandonment cases, save for a few select animals. Those convicted of animal cruelty are also not required to have mental health evaluations or counseling, and are not restricted by law from future animal ownership.