By Peter Fimrite
If you have four legs, lick faces or purr, there aren't many better places to live than California.
The Golden State ranked fifth in the nation for its laws against animal abuse and neglect, according to a comparative study released this month by the Sonoma County-based Animal Legal Defense Fund.
That means, of course, that four states did better jobs protecting pets this year, but researchers said finishing behind Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Oregon is no reason for California to put its tail between its legs.
"If you are an animal, California is one of the best states to be in terms of having the full range of protections in the law," said Stephan Otto, the director of legislative affairs for the nonprofit fund and the author of the report. "Certainly the lawmakers get the fact that there is a correlation between animal abuse and other crimes."
The researchers went through 4,000 pages of statutes and ranked the comprehensiveness and strength of animal-protection laws in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.
Illinois, it turns out, is a relative Shangri-la for companion animals. It has now been the alpha pet defender for three years running. Maine and Michigan are right on Illinois' heels. All three states allow prosecutors to charge felonies not only for animal abuse and cruelty, but for extreme neglect, abandonment and also sexual assault, Otto said..." More