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Granite State in Middle of Pack for Animal Protection

The Granite State is stuck in the middle in terms of its animal-protection laws, ranked 26th among states in a new report. (Animal Legal Defense Fund)
The Granite State is stuck in the middle in terms of its animal-protection laws, ranked 26th among states in a new report. (Animal Legal Defense Fund)
January 13, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire is stuck in the middle in a new report that ranks anti-cruelty and other animal-protection laws in all 50 states.

Lora Dunn, staff attorney in the Animal Legal Defense Fund's criminal-justice program, is co-author of the report, which compares the overall strength and comprehensiveness of each state's animal-welfare laws. She said New Hampshire ranks 26th, but could improve that national ranking by updating state laws.

"Veterinarians can report animal cruelty, but it's not required," she said. "So, we would like to see New Hampshire take that extra step for animal protection, because vets are sometimes the only ones who see animals suffering from neglect."

Dunn said the Granite State could take a cue from Maine, which ranks in the top three states in the nation for animal protection. Maine already has a law that requires veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse.

Dunn said there is a proven link between people who abuse animals and those who abuse other people. She said all 50 states have felony provisions for animal fighting, but New Hampshire could improve its statute by making animal fighting a federal racketeering or "RICO" offense. Dunn said her group tries to make it as easy as possible for states to make these updates.

"We also have model laws on our website," she said, "so if there is a place that you think that your state could specifically improve - for example, adding a RICO offense for animal fighting - we have model laws on our website as kind of a starting point."

The report ranks the top five states for strong animal welfare laws as Illinois, Oregon, Maine, California and Michigan. At the bottom of the list are Iowa, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The report is online at aldf.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH