Humane Society ranks N.D. low on animal protection lawsNorth Dakota ranks near the bottom and Minnesota in the middle in a 50-state ranking by the Humane Society of the United States on a wide range of animal protection laws.
By: By Chuck Haga, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota ranks near the bottom and Minnesota in the middle in a 50-state ranking by the Humane Society of the United States on a wide range of animal protection laws.
The nation’s largest animal protection organization released its first “Humane State Ranking” this week, basing its report on how the states measure up in animal protection. The 11 million-member society looked at individual states’ laws dealing with pets, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife, animals in research, horses and farm animals.
California has strong laws in 45 of the 65 categories and ranked first, according to the society, protecting pets from antifreeze poisoning and continuous chaining, prohibiting steel-jawed leg hold traps, restricting horse slaughter and mountain lion trophy hunting and protecting farm animals from extreme confinement and tail-docking.
New Jersey was second with a score of 41, and Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts tied for third with scores of 38.
Minnesota was 29th, credited with strong laws in 23 categories.
North Dakota, with what the Humane Society considered strong laws in just 13 categories, was tied with Mississippi for 47th place, followed by Idaho and, at the very bottom, South Dakota.
The bottom four states are the only states with no felony penalty for “egregious acts of animal cruelty,” the Humane Society reported.
It was the second time in two months that a national organization scolded those states for their lack of felony penalties for animal abuse. In December, the Animal Legal Defense Fund released a report ranking North Dakota 50th among the states and District of Columbia for the effectiveness of laws concerning animal abuse.
The organization placed North Dakota on its short list of “best places to be an animal abuser.”
State animal rights activists asked the 2007 Legislature to adopt a felony animal abuse statute, but legislators — concerned about how such a law might be applied inappropriately to ranchers, farmers with livestock and 4-H activities — rejected the measure.
Local animal advocates have said they plan another push at the 2011 North Dakota Legislature, with help from the Humane Society of the United States.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the national organization, said this week’s report showed that trends are positive — the society helped pass 121 new state animal protection laws in 2009, he said — but “major gaps” continue.
“Anemic animal protection laws in many states will allow cruelty and abuse to continue, and that must change,” he said.
Chuck Haga is a reporter at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.