2012’s Best New State Laws for Animals

Friday, December 28, 2012 - 11:00am
Orange ASPCA map of United States

Guest blog by Ann Church, Vice President of State Affairs, ASPCA Government Relations

Thanks to the support of animal advocates like you, the ASPCA’s Government Relations team was able to expand greatly this year, increasing our ability to fight for better laws for animals in all 50 states. As 2012 draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on some of this year’s legislative accomplishments on behalf of animals. Here is a small sampling of state-level victories that the ASPCA and our mighty Advocacy Brigade helped secure in 2012:

California—“Hounding” of Wildlife
California has banned hounding, a form of trophy hunting in which radio-collared dogs are released in forests to chase and tree bears and bobcats.

Idaho—Felony Cruelty
2012 will be remembered as the year that Idaho, a long-time holdout, finally enacted a law making animal torture a felony offense. The state made cockfighting a felony as well.

Massachusetts—Animal Control Reform
Among other achievements, this far-reaching, comprehensive new law creates a statewide spay/neuter program, prohibits breed-specific legislation, places restrictions on outdoor tethering, and allows pets to be included in domestic violence-related protection orders.

New Jersey—Horse Slaughter
New Jersey banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption as well as their transport through the state—a very meaningful provision, given the continued problem of export of horses over the border for slaughter.

Ohio—Exotic Pet Ownership and Puppy Mill Regulations
Ohio’s Dangerous Wild Animal Act passed seven months after 56 exotic animals were released by their owner. (Most were killed.) Ohio was one of only a handful of states with virtually no regulations on wild/exotic animal pet ownership. In addition, the state passed its first-ever puppy mill law, which sets standards of care and requires annual inspections.

Tennessee—Felony Cruelty to Livestock
While most states exempt farm animals from their animal cruelty statues, Tennessee became one of the first to make extreme acts of cruelty to livestock subject to felony-level penalties.

It’s important to remember that these victories, as well as the countless others, could not have been achieved without collaboration among state legislators and humane advocacy groups. Let’s all continue to champion stronger laws protecting our nation’s animals and make 2013 an even better year!

Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to learn more.

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my dad was by yellow breaches creek in PA by camp hill we wanted to tell you before winter comes so he or she lives and survives it was in the field exactly next to the creek good luck :)


New York State needs to catch up with California, New Jersey, Oregon when it comes to animal advocacy & stronger laws. We have a vast state between the busy streets of Manhattan & the rolling hills of the Adirondacks, so we need to protect our companion animals & wildlife! NYS needs to move animal crimes out of Ag & Market codes and into the Penal code. Time to update old laws & ways of doing things! We need to rid the state of puppy mills & reform our VERY antiquated animal control association. The ASPCA is based in NYC so I would hope their home state would be a TOP priority because this state's animals are not fully protected like other states.

Kathy F obtained

What finally happened to Betty under your care?


we want to know what happened to Betty too....

Kymberly Sedillos

I would like to know if Betty survived her injuries and wonder if she is leading a normal dogs life? And how do I go about putting into affect rules, regulations and/or laws for puppy mills across the US? All businesses like those need yearly routine UNANNOUNCED visits to make sure animals (dogs and cats) are cared for properly.

Thank you for all of the work that you do to protect our animals.

Rose Mullany

It seems to me that too many people neglect their cats kittnes. We recently found two feral kittens that we had feed for a week or so and now have captured in a trap. They are the cutest kittle beautiful works of God and are taking their time in trusting us(socializing). They are now in a warm and loving home with lots of food. We will (as soon as they are confortable enugh) take them to the Doctor for testing a shots) of course later on spay and neuter, I beleive they will be socialized and make someone a loving pet.

Kathryn M Seeds

I am an avid animal lover and protector but truly have limited funds. What concrete action can I or any animal lover take to help protect animal abuse and neglect? Are there ASPCA Offices in every state? Thank you for ALL that you do to promote animal awareness!


It is encouraging to see the new laws passed in several states. I hope enforcement doesn't become an afterthought. The felony for livestock cruelty is especially surprising and wonderful. I wish Texas would be proactive in this area. Also banning foi gras in all states and cracking down seriously on animal fighting. A robust cybercrimes and on-going undercover investigative infrastructure to help catch these vile criminals and laws that put them away for a very long time would.make my dreams come true. Oh if the funding was available.

Lois DeWitt

I hope that in the near future our government addresses the cruelties in livestock raising, feeding and slaughtering.