Kentucky is the worst state for animal protection laws for the 12th year in a row, according to the annual U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report.
The 13th annual report, by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, was released Tuesday.
Mississippi ranked #49, Iowa #48 and Utah, #47, according to the release. Illinois is first place with the strongest state animal protection laws, for the 11th year in a row.
Other states that ranked high for animal protection laws include Oregon at #2, Maine #3 and Colorado #4, according to the release.
Kentucky is the only state that prohibits veterinarians from reporting suspected animal abuse, according to the release. The state is also “one of just a handful of states with no prohibition of sexual assault of animals,” according to the release. Felony animal cruelty and animal fighting only covers limited species, according to the release.
The report for 2018 adds five new categories to its rankings methodology — the definition of “animal,” courtroom animal advocate programs, laws that allow for the rescue of dogs from hot parked cars, civil nuisance abatement and breed-specific legislation.
A December 2016 study from the University of Kentucky and Lincoln Memorial University found that of the 92 shelters covering Kentucky’s 120 counties, conditions at 57 percent violated three of more provisions of Kentucky’s animal shelter laws. Many shelters didn’t get sufficient funding, shelter and animal workers did not receive adequate training, and many animals didn’t get treatment for medical problems.
“Current laws do not appear to be fully satisfactory at accomplishing the goal of providing good shelter animal care across Kentucky,” the UK-Lincoln Memorial study said.
In 2018, 14 dogs and three kittens were seized from a shelter in Elliott County. State police charged the owner Randy Skaggs, with 179 counts of cruelty to animals and 179 counts of failing to have dogs vaccinated for rabies. The charges were all misdemeanors and are still pending, scheduled for trial in February.