Maine Ranked #1 in Animal Welfare Laws for the 3rd year in a row!


For the third year in a row, Maine ranks as the top state in the nation for its animal protection laws, according to the annual “U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report” published by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animal protection.

The longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, the 17th annual year-end Rankings Report assesses the relative strengths and weaknesses of each U.S. state’s animal welfare laws, and ranks them accordingly. Maine was first named #1 in 2020, receiving the same distinction for its humane work in 2021.

For a remarkable third consecutive year, this week’s ALDF announcement of Maine’s continued first place ranking affirms the unrelenting work of Maine’s strong and active animal welfare community.

“This doesn’t just happen,” notes MFOA founder and President, Robert Fisk, Jr. “This is the result of the work of many people, who over the years have made animal welfare a subject of public awareness and interest, and demonstrates the value of focusing on legislative action.” Maine Friends of Animals has been submitting legislation for over 25 years with many partners. “Although much has been accomplished, there still remains much to do, as animal protection is a never-ending challenge that requires constant attention,” said Fisk. 


Maine ranks No. 1 in the nation for animal protection laws. This is Maine’s third year in a row coming in first, and a lot of the credit goes to one organization in particular.

WCSH-TV News Center Maine, February 21, 2023 Author: Anne Baldridge

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine has once again ranked No. 1 in the nation for its animal protection laws, according to the 2022 U.S. State Animal Protections Laws Rankings.

Maine Friends of Animals works with the Maine State Legislature to come up with ways to better protect animals. 

“We plant seeds, we plant seeds to make people think differently about animals,” Robert Fisk Jr., founder of Maine Friends of Animals, said. 

How Much Does A Walk-In Shower Actually Cost?Kohler Showers

In 25 years, the nonprofit helped pass several laws, including banning the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores and the most recent bill was their pet custody bill, the act to provide for the wellbeing of companion animals during a divorce was passed at the Maine House and Senate.

Their bills have helped benefit local animal shelters as well as the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

“For shelters and rescues in Maine, the key to animal welfare is collaboration,” Patsy Murphy, executive director of Animal Refuge League, said. 

In 2023, Maine Friends of Animals is making its fourth attempt to ban the hunting of animals in an enclosed area. They have previously gone to the state legislature for this in 1999, 2003, and 2009. 

Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, who is sponsoring the bill, said they are still in the draft process.

“I think this time around we are much more prepared, and we’ve had the experience and know what the arguments are,” Fisk said. 

Fisk said there are about a half-dozen of these hunting ranches in Maine. 

Chipman said he expects to have a public hearing for this bill scheduled in the near future.

In the meantime, animal advocates say they’ll do what they can to remain at the top when it comes to protecting animals.

“There’s so much more we can do, and these rankings just illustrate the future is bright in Maine for animal welfare,” Murphy said. 

For a look at the full Animal Legal Defense Fund report, click here.


Also watch WGME TV Ch. 13 News Report on Maine being ranked #1



Maine ranks No. 1 in the nation for animal protection laws


The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s 16th annual U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report starts with a comprehensive review by our team of legal experts of more than 3,400 pages of state animal protection laws, then ranks them by relative strength and effectiveness. The longest-running, most authoritative report of its kind, it tracks which states are taking the lead to improve animal protection laws and which are falling behind. This year, Maine maintains its number 1 for the second year.

Animal Legal Defense Fund again names Maine leader in animal protection laws

The Animal Legal Defense Fund reviews the laws around the country each year.

January 19, 2022

The Animal Legal Defense Fund announces the publication of the 2021 U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Rankings ReportSM. The longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, the Rankings Report assesses the relative strengths and weaknesses of each U.S. state’s and territory’s animal protection laws, and ranks them accordingly. This year, Maine maintains its top rank, having the nation’s strongest animal protection laws for the second year in a row.

The pre-eminent national legal association for animal protection, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, named Maine #1 in the nation for its animal protection laws. Although Maine’s animal welfare laws have been a work in progress by many throughout the years, recent legislation led to its current #1 ranking. In 2019 and 2021, MFOA passed a ‘Pet Shop’ bill, which will eventually end the sale of puppy-mill dogs and cats in Maine pet shops; a bill that made post-conviction possession of an animal a felony offense; “Franky’s Law”, a second-in-the-nation ‘Courtroom Animal Advocate Program’ using volunteer attorneys and Maine law school students; and most recently, a ‘Pet Custody’ bill that provides a judge with criteria to consider the well-being of a pet dog or cat in a contested divorce proceeding. This is the second year in a row that Maine was ranked #1 by ALDF.



Maine rose to the top rank in 2020 and remains there in 2021, surpassing the previous titleholder, Illinois. In the 16 years the Animal Legal Defense Fund has published the report, Maine has always ranked in the top tier. It achieved this rank in part due to its extremely comprehensive animal neglect laws. Maine’s law has the most detailed definitions in the country for what constitutes adequate food, water, shelter, and care of animals. This helps ensure neglect laws are consistently enforced because it removes ambiguity for both law enforcement and animal guardians.

Never one for complacency, Maine has also demonstrated a commitment to steadily improving their animal protection laws each year. That commitment led to Maine finally usurping Illinois in 2020, when it passed a law creating a Courtroom Animal Advocate Program (CAAP). These laws allow a third party to advocate for the interests of an animal victim in an animal cruelty case. Maine is only the second state in the country to pass a CAAP law, following Connecticut, making the state a pioneer in cutting-edge animal protection laws.

Author: Peggy Keyser (NEWS CENTER Maine)

Published: 1:03 PM EDT April 14, 2022

MAINE, Maine — Maine is first in the country when it comes to laws that protect animals. A lot of the credit for that goes to Maine Friends of Animals, an organization devoted to shepherding bills through the Legislature. Former legislator Robert Fisk launched the non-profit 25 years ago. 

“Through osmosis or default as a lowly freshman, I became the resident expert in Augusta on animal issues,” Fisk said. “It showed me that there was no vehicle in which animal legislation could be brought up and passed. There just wasn’t a cohesive group doing that.” 

Fisk served two years in the Legislature and has continued advocating for animals.

“I’ve always had the passion for this,” he said of his work. “I’ve been involved in animal protection for over 40 years, I’ve been a legislator, political all my life, so I know politics. But until you’ve been a legislator and been up in Augusta and know how to work through the system and the halls and how to get things done, it’s very hard.”

‘Getting things done’ has been the work of Maine Friends of Animals since its inception.

“Our mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals through education, advocacy, and legislation,” he said.

Fisk guided Maine Friends of Animals with a two-pronged approach.

“We needed to partner all the animal protection people in the state so we were more effective as one entity and the second part was using legislation as a vehicle for change. Those were the two main parts of the mission when we first started out and we’ve stayed with it ever since. We’ve been very legislatively focused.”

This work has made our state first in the country for laws that protect animals, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a national organization that reviews animal protection laws in each state.

Kathleen Wood is a staff attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“Each year, for the past sixteen years, we’ve published a report that ranks those states according to the strengths and weaknesses in their animal protection laws,” she said. 

“We go through thousands of pages of animal cruelty laws every year and for the past two years Maine has been ranked number one,” she said. “Due in large part to their courtroom animal advocate program passed in 2020.”

That law, also known as Franky’s Law, allows volunteer attorneys or law students to donate their time as advocates to help on animal cruelty cases. It is the most recent example of animal protection legislation passed by Maine.

Fisk hopes this law will help.

“So many times animal cruelty cases don’t get adjudicated and litigated like they should,” he said. “This will help them. It will be a program that will help mitigate that need.” 

Wood put it this way: “Maine has always done a great job of protecting animals. They have incredibly comprehensive neglect laws, requiring certain standards of care for animals, so I have no doubt that they will continue to improve and maintain that top spot.”

There is no end to the work Maine Friends of Animals hopes to accomplish.

“Education is the most important thing,” Fisk said. “That begets advocacy. Advocacy then gets people thinking and it changes the way they’re thinking and finally you move in to legislation. How I view it is, we plant seeds. Seeds of thinking differently about animals.”

You can visit the Maine Friends of Animals and Animal Legal Defense Fund websites to learn more.



State Animal Protection Laws Ranked: Maine is #1

Animal Legal Defense Fund Publishes 2020 State Ranking Report 

MFOA’s passage of three bills in the last legislature puts Maine #1

February 17, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, has released the 15th annual year-end U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report (2020), ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states.  

Thanks to its new Courtroom Animal Advocate Program, Maine takes first place — followed by Illinois (2), Oregon (3), Colorado (4), and Rhode Island (5). 


© 2024 Maine Friends of Animals | 190 U.S. Route 1, Falmouth, Maine USA 04105 | 207-781-2187

web site design and hosting by Artopa, LLC | login