Each year, as legislative sessions get under way across the country, The HSUS issues a report card concerning animal protection laws in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. In it, we examine how the states are performing on policies related to wildlife, farm animals, companion animals, puppy mills, animal cruelty and fighting, and animals in research. We take about 70 policy ideas – such as adoption of felony-level penalties for cockfighting, or humane breeding standards for dogs – as our benchmarks. Then we determine if a given state has a policy, add up the numbers, make our judgments, and rank the states from top to bottom.
This year, as for all six years that we've done this report, California tops the list for having passed the most animal protection laws, with Proposition 2 as just one of the strong measures that the state has adopted to help animals. California is followed by Oregon, Illinois (whose outgoing governor vetoed a bobcat hunting and trapping bill earlier this week), Massachusetts, and New York and Virginia (tied for fifth place), all of which have been consistently strong on animal protection laws relative to other states.