The ASPCA's Top 10 State Legislative Victories in 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013 - 2:45pm
Tan and white bulldog

As 2013 comes to a close, the ASPCA is celebrating meaningful changes in state animal welfare laws that will improve the lives of thousands of animals across the country. This year, the ASPCA worked with state legislators and other humane advocacy groups to score 87 victories for animals by enacting new laws or defeating hostile legislation, making 2013 one of the most successful years for our animal welfare policy work.

Here is a small sampling of new laws that the ASPCA and our Advocacy Brigade helped secure—as well as misguided bills we helped defeat—in 2013:

(1) Maryland passed a law to establish one of the strongest, most robustly-funded statewide spay/neuter programs in the country, and West Virginia enacted a comprehensive spay/neuter program as well. These new laws will help reduce pet homelessness and euthanasia of healthy animals. 

(2) In Texas, cruel and unnecessary gas chambers can no longer be used to euthanize animals in shelters.

(3) Working with a coalition of animal welfare, environmental, and human rights organizations, the ASPCA helped ensure that none of the 11 ag-gag bills introduced in 2013 (in Arkansas, California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming) were passed into law. Pushed by industrial agribusiness, these bills were blatant attempts to cover up illegal and unethical activities on factory farms. Defeating them was critical not only for the protection of animals and the whistleblowers exposing their mistreatment, but also for the safety of the public.

(4) Thanks to groundbreaking legislation passed in Colorado, law enforcement officers will receive training on canine behavior and alternative methods to the use of lethal force in order to reduce accidental dog shootings. A new law in New York State will increase criminal penalties for the intentional killing of police dogs and horses

(5) In California, legislation passed that will phase out lead ammunition for hunting throughout the state to protect wildlife, who are at risk of ingesting contaminated remains, as well as California’s diverse ecosystem.

(6) This was a phenomenal year for animals in Nevada, where seven animal protection bills passed, including legislation to ban horse tripping, enhance penalties for animal fighting and protect wild horses.

(7) In New Jersey, penalties for neglect have been strengthened with the passage of “Patrick’s Law,” named after a dog who was starved nearly to death and thrown down a garbage chute.

(8) Illinois enacted new laws protecting chained dogs, stray farm animals, puppy mill puppies and animals who fall victim to animal fighting.

(9) Animals in Alabama and Ohio are safer from abuse thanks to new laws that strengthen cruelty penalties.

(10) ASPCA-backed legislation passed in Connecticut established a task force to study the origin of dogs and cats in pet shops that will, ideally, pave the way for groundbreaking legislation in 2014 to prevent pet stores from selling puppy mill puppies. 

Many state legislatures will reconvene in January, and the ASPCA looks forward to expanding protections for even more for animals in all 50 states.

To find out about animal advocacy events in your area and how you can be more involved in the fight to protect animals, visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center.


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Rosa Caldwell

Great accomplishments for 2013. May you have many more in 2014. It would be fantastic if the list for 2014 would include at least one from every state. Way to go ASPCA.


Yes, it is about time that all states show, through new legislation, the respect, humanity and love that our animals deserve.


FYI, studies show forced spay/neuter laws INCREASE shelter overpopulation; such laws mean potential responsible adopters with religious or ethical restrictions against the practice cannot adopt, because they cannot license their pets or even vaccinate them, because vets are forced to turn over vaccination records. Meanwhile, irresponsible pet owners, the people this law should but doesn't target, keep doing whatever they feel like with their stray puppy/stray kitten machines. Glad my male,unfixed, 12-year-old (keyn ahora), never was and not gonna be a daddy rescued cocker and I live in CA not MD; saves me having to do a complete relo, with no job, because someone wants to force my best friend into an unnecessary surgery which replaces current health risks with equally dangerous new ones. Though I looked into the possibilities a few years ago, when CA was heavily pushing forced sterilization, and I still worry.


I would think that people who use religion as a reason to NOT ADOPT are either lying or among the very, very few and don't make that much of a difference. I find that entire reasoning absurd.


Animals who are spayed/neutered are healthier and live longer. Please speak to a vet and get the facts.


I don't know where you got the info that a sterilzed dog has better health from. The studies that I have read say that a dog should not be sterilized untill they are four years old as their bodies are still growing and they need the harmons produce by the testicals and ovaries. That if you sterilize them you should only have a vasectomy performed on the males and a tubular ligation on the feamale. That way their little bodies receive the necessary hormans that they need to be a healthy dog.


I had to laugh out loud when I read this point about "religious" reason not to spay or neuter a pet. Completely ridiculous. If animals are spayed and neutered there would NOT be the insane # of mixed breed pups ending up in shelters, or uncared for in backyard breeders backyards and hopefully will cut down on puppy mills also. Its not forced sterilization anyway. Stay in California!


Cheryl I live in the CA Central Valley one of the worst over population of cats and dogs in the country, I see dogs running loose all the time, I see dogs and cats dead on the city streets, country roads and the freeways daily. CA needs a spay-neuter law and fast. Come to the Central Valley and volunteer for a few days and see for yourself all the dead dogs and cats laying dead in the streets and in the barrels after being put down in the shelters cause there is not enough homes it will change your mind.


Please give an example of a religion that is against the sterilization of pets. Animals do not practice religion so I don't see how that could be a factor.


I have a friend who believes that it takes away their God given right to reproduce. even though she knows the statistics and her animals have roamed the neighborhood and come back pregnant. then they're left with all these puppies and kittens with no homes and have to take them to the shelter. it's incredibly stupid reasoning and they get flack about it from everyone. spay and neuter laws are needed. PERIOD!!