Many U.S. states are failing to protect animals from cruelty, sexual assault, neglect and other forms of abuse, an Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) report finds.

The "2012 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings™" is the seventh annual report to assess animal protection laws across the U.S., rating each region in fifteen categories. The sections include law enforcement, cruelty reporting and sexual assault. "Ag gag legislation" was added as a factor this year -- some states have made it illegal to gain access to a farm facility under false pretenses, punishing animal abuse whistleblowers.

Many allegations of animal cruelty made headlines this year. An undercover investigator at a Wyoming pig farm documented workers appearing to prod, punch and sit on a pig with a broken leg, and flipping young piglets through the air. Following an undercover investigation at pig breeding facilities in Oklahoma, a complaint was filed alleging that thousands of sows had their movement severely restricted and some with large sores, torn vulvas and ripped skin were left untreated. In California, a chicken hatchery was sued after footage revealed hatchlings with ripped skin and exposed organs being thrown into bins, trapped under machinery and drowned.

Animal advocates argue that "ag gag" laws are making it even more challenging to uncover these type of abuses, the sparse laws governing treatment at factory farms are inadequate, and the industry is failing to police itself.

List and captions courtesy of Animal Legal Defense Fund.

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  • 10. Alaska

    List and captions courtesy of<a href="http://api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&key=1fd204d8792518e336580cc72b47c06b&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2F2012%2F12%2F27%2Fanimal-cruelty-laws-2012-aldf_n_2316950.html%23slide%3D1916276&v=1&libid=1361811364918&out=http%3A%2F%2Faldf.org%2F&title=Animal%20Cruelty%20Laws%3A%20ALDF%20Ranks%20States%20By%20Abuse%20Regulations&txt=Animal%20Legal%20Defense%20Fund&jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_13618115109463"> Animal Legal Defense Fund</a>.

  • 9. Utah

  • 8. Hawaii

  • 7. New Jersey

  • 6. Wyoming

  • 5. New Mexico

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>Felony provisions available only for cruelty and fighting against select animals   Inadequate felony provisions for neglect; none for abandonment   No provisions for sexual assault Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No provisions for veterinarians or other select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authority Inadequate cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions  </blockquote>

  • 4. South Dakota

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>No felony animal cruelty, neglect or abandonment provisions   Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   No increased penalties for repeat animal abusers No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction No provisions for veterinarians or other select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authority Inadequate cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction No mental health evaluations or counseling for offenders   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions</blockquote>

  • 3. Iowa

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>Ag gag law Felony provisions available only for cruelty against select animals and fighting Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   No increased penalties for repeat animal abusers No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction No provisions for veterinarians or other select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authority Inadequate cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions</blockquote>  

  • 2. North Dakota

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>Ag gag law No felony animal cruelty, neglect, abandonment, or sexual assault provisions   Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   No increased penalties for repeat animal abusers No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No mandatory forfeiture of animals upon conviction No provisions for veterinarians or other select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authorityPage 18 Inadequate cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction   No mental health evaluations or counseling for offenders   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions</blockquote>  

  • 1. Kentucky

    <a href="http://aldf.org/custom/rankings/ALDF2012USRankingsReport.pdf">ALDF Overview: Why These States Made the “Worst Five” List</a> <blockquote>Felony provisions available only for cruelty and fighting, both against only select animals   Inadequate definitions/standards of basic care   Principal protections apply only to select types of animals   No felony provisions for neglect or abandonment   No provisions for sexual assault No increased penalties when abuse is committed in the presence of a minor or involves multiple animals No court‐ordered forfeiture provisions Veterinarians are prohibited from reporting suspected cruelty or fighting   No provisions for select non‐animal‐related agencies/professionals to report suspected animal abuse   No duty for peace officers to enforce animal protection laws   Humane officers lack broad law enforcement authority No cost mitigation & recovery provisions for impounded animals   No restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction   No mental health evaluations or counseling for offenders   No statutory authority to allow protective orders to include animals   Inadequate animal fighting provisions</blockquote>  

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