Humane Society: California best, South Dakota worst for animals
It's official: California is a land of bunny-huggers. For the third year in a row, California has earned higher marks than any other state in a survey that looks at everything from the treatment of farm animals to the keeping of pet bears.
No state came near the maximum score of 66 in the survey from the Humane Society of the United States, which the animal advocacy group says is a reflection of how far there is to go before animals are properly protected. That's especially true if you happen to be a beast living in South Dakota, which scored a measly eight points on the Humane Society's scale -- the lowest of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
California came away with 46 points, based in part on its Farm Animal Cruelty Protection Act, which bans long confinements of animals on factory farms. It also is one of a handful of states that requires counseling for animal cruelty offenders and that bans the possession and sale of shark fins -- used in the soup considered a Chinese delicacy.
Oregon and New Jersey tied for second place with 40 points each.
South Dakota, though, was lambasted by the Humane Society for coming in "dead last," as the survey noted, for its lax rules protecting animals. It is one of only three states that have no felony laws against egregious acts of animal cruelty. Idaho fared nearly as poorly, with a score of nine.
“There are some states that are adopting innovative and strong policies to protect animals, while others are lagging badly,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society, which announced the survey's results Tuesday. It was the third year the rankings have been released.
One state that improved its ranking over 2010 was Ohio, where dozens of exotic animals, including Bengal tigers, were killed in an incident last year. Their owner had set them free before killing himself, and officials shot the animals, saying they feared for the safety of humans.
The Humane Society praised Ohio for moving to ban extreme confinement of animals on factory farms but said it needs stiffer laws to prevent the keeping of dangerous wild animals as pets.
-- Tina Susman in New York
Photo: It's good to be a dog, or just about any other animal, in California, according to the latest Humane Society rankings. In this August photo, dogs frolic at Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach, where dogs can run off their leashes every day. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times