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Nebraska in Middle of Pack for Animal Protection Laws

Nebraska requires that veterinarians report suspected animal abuse. (kimdewor0/Pixabay)
Nebraska requires that veterinarians report suspected animal abuse. (kimdewor0/Pixabay)
January 22, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska falls in the middle of the pack among states when it comes to keeping animals safe.

The state is ranked 25th in an annual report from the Animal Legal Defense Fund that examines state and local animal protection laws.

Lora Dunn, director of the group's Criminal Justice Program, says Nebraska is taking some positive steps, including requiring that veterinarians report suspected animal abuse, and that law enforcement investigate cases of animal cruelty.

But she notes there are areas that need improvement, as the state does not make a first offense of animal cruelty a felony.

"Even the most egregious acts of torturing a dog or a cat, an offender would have to do that multiple times before facing more severe penalties,” she points out. “So, we would like to see in Nebraska make a change and recognize that the punishment fits the crime."

Dunn adds the state could also improve in the rankings by allowing courts to include animals in domestic violence protective orders, which can keep both people and animals out of dangerous situations.

Nebraska fell in the 2017 rankings, down from 22nd in 2016.

While the report highlights how widely animal protection policies can vary, Dunn notes that more than half of all states have improved their laws over the last five years.

"We are recognizing now as a society that animals are important beings who feel pain, who can suffer,” she states. “They are companions in our lives, and they deserve protection."

Dunn maintains the findings can be an impetus for change, and encourages Nebraskans to speak up.

"Contact your local representatives, because they really want to hear from you,” she urges. “And we're very encouraged that in the past, because folks get involved, those representatives really hear your voices. And you can make a difference in affecting change for animals.”

The top three states for most effective animal cruelty laws are Illinois, Oregon and California, while Kentucky, Iowa and Utah round out the bottom.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE