12/27/2012 07:46 am ET Updated Dec 27, 2012

Animal Cruelty Laws: ALDF Ranks States By Abuse Regulations

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.

10 Worst States For Animal Abuse Laws