DES MOINES, Iowa -- A report released Wednesday says Iowa has the second worst animal protection laws in the country.
The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund ranked Iowa No. 49 for having one of the weakest systems for protecting animals followed by Kentucky, which has ranked No. 50 for nine years in a row.
The report ranked states on the strength of its pet protection laws and penalties for crimes like dog fighting and leaving animals in hot cars.
The report points out that felony charges are only an option for cruelty against specific animals and for fighting in Iowa. There are no felony provisions for neglect or abandonment. The state also doesn't stop people who have been convicted of felonies for animal cruelty from getting new pets.
The ranking isn't a surprise for some at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.
“The ARL has led an effort to do a re-write of the statutes for the dogs, cats and other animals of our law. We want to take that to the 2016 Legislature,” said Tom Colvin, executive director of the ARL.
The proposed changes would cover dogs, cats, and other domestic animals but not farm animals.
Colvin said he hopes this report will spur change at the Iowa Capitol.
"I'm optimistic that together Iowans can put this message through let their Legislature know that change is necessary, and together we can get it changed," he said.
The report ranked Illinois first for the eighth year in a row.
The Animal Legal Defense fund says the report is the "longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, and tracks which states are taking animal protection seriously."