Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Utah Gets Low Marks For Animal Protection
Utah ranks 47 of 50 in animal-protection laws

Last January, House Bill 97 banned Utah cities from creating a legislation that would outlaw certain breads of dogs. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, there are still a lot of ways Utah can improve in protecting animals.

A report done by the ALDF shows Utah has some of the weakest animal-protection laws in the country. Utah ranks 47 out of 50 states.

The report assesses the strength of each state’s animal protection by examining state laws involving animals.


According to ALDF attorney Scott Heiser, Utah can significantly improve the laws in place surrounding cockfighting.

“There are a number of things that the legislature could do in Utah to improve the overall status of the state,” Heiser said. “First of all, cockfighting is a violent sport—and I don’t even want to use the word sport—it’s a violent enterprise. Right now under Utah law it’s not a felony till a third conviction. So multiple offenses for cockfighting and you don’t hit felony till your third or subsequent conviction. So there’s a lot of room for improvement there.”

Another big change Heiser said Utah can improve on is allowing animals to be included in protective orders in cases of domestic violence.

“I’ve seen a lot of animal-cruelty cases over the years and absolutely these statutory changes make a huge difference,” Heiser said. “Just the mandatory arrest and investigate an arrest statute creates a huge cultural shift in law enforcement. It’s a really profound change and it goes a long way toward dealing with any under enforcement problems that folks in the community might have.”

Illinois was rated No. 1 in animal protection, followed closely by Oregon, Maine, California and Michigan.