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For 11 consecutive years, Illinois has been ranked the best in the nation for its animal protection laws by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 by a group of attorneys and is renowned for its defense of various species through the legal system, prosecuting innovative cases to end animal cruelty and broadening animal rights.

In the organization’s most recent rankings report, they rated Illinois as “top tier,” commending our state for its adequate term definitions and exceptional standards for basic care.
The U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report is considered the most dependable and longest running report of its kind. The fund assesses over 3,400 pages of statutes and ranks the states based on 19 different categories of animal protection.

What brought Illinois to number one? Policies such as:

- Mandating that suspected animal cruelty be reported by other agencies and departments
- Increased penalties for repeat abusers
- Felony animal fighting provisions for every known species, and classifying animal fighting as a RICO offense
- Including animals in protection orders
- Giving courts discretion to restrict ownership of an animal after a conviction

However, even a top tier selection has a few weaknesses. Here is what the Animal Legal Defense Fund considered to be ours:

- Post-conviction forfeiture of animals is not mandatory
- There is no immunity for civilians rescuing animals from unattended vehicles

All in all, our strengths outweigh our weaknesses, and Illinois is still the state to beat when it comes to animal protection.

To read the detailed animal protection statues of our state, click here.

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