Report Ranks Arkansas One of "Best States to be Animal Abuser"

November 13, 2007 - Posted at 1:38 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- A new list is out ranking all fifty states on the strength of their animal protection laws and Arkansas is one of the worst on the list.

In fact, the report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund calls the Natural State as one of the five "Best States to be an Animal Abuser."

Wannda Turner of Northeast Arkansans for Animals says she's known about Arkansas' failing grade when it comes to animal protection.

"Some of that is for our prosecutors and our law enforcement to take it a little more seriously. Here in Jonesboro, we have excellent. But in other parts of the state, it's kind of shoved way down the line and so it's hard to get it prosecuted," said Turner.

Part of the reason Arkansas is finding itself in the dog house is because it doesn't have any felony animal cruelty provisions, which isn't keeping serious animal abusers behind bars.

"Our legislation is not as strong as many of the other states. In fact, Arkansas is one of only eight states that doesn't have felony cruelty," said Turner.

The report from the Animal Legal Defense Fund also cites Arkansas for the high cost of caring for abused animals and no restrictions on future ownership for those convicted of cruelty to animals.

"What we have to try and do is put our local authorities and our local prosecutors and our local legislators to make sure that what is on the books is actually prosecuted. A lot of the people in Arkansas find it very difficult to get an abuse case prosecuted," said Turner.

And as far as change, Turner believes it can happen.

"I think what needs to happen is there needs to be a coalition of lawmakers and good animal individuals that can put together a package that can bring Arkansas up into the 21st century," said Turner.

Rounding out the top five worst states are Alaska, Kentucky, North Dakota and Utah.