(CBS) — For the fourth year straight, a California-based advocacy group says Illinois is “the very best of the best” state in the country for the strength of its laws against animal cruelty.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the Animal Legal Defense Fund says Illinois ranks first nationwide for laws on behalf of animals, followed by California, Maine, Michigan and Oregon. Wisconsin also made the top tier, ranking 19th.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports


The group says the worst states are Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho, South Dakota and Iowa. In its news release on the study, the group called these states the “five best states to be an animal abuser.”

The Animal Defense Fund notes that there are laws in the books in Illinois for cruelty, neglect, abandonment, fighting, and sexual assault of animals. Repeat abusers are also subject to enhanced penalties, the group notes.

Under Illinois law, veterinarians must to report suspected animal cruelty by law, and courts can order mental health counseling and restrictions on ownership for animal abuse offedners. Protective orders can also include animals, the group says.

The group also suggested potential improvements for Illinois, including increased penalties for animal abuse offenders with prior domestic violence convictions, and for those who abuse animals in front of a minor. The group also called for mandatory incarceration and restrictions on future animal ownership for some offenses, among other suggestions.

By comparison to Illinois and the other top-ranking states, Kentucky, which ranks No. 50, has a felony prevention against cruelty only for certain animals, and does not require police officers to enforce humane laws. Also in Kentucky, veterinarians are forbidden from reporting suspected cruelty or fighting, the report says.

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