What We Do

In the U.S. 66% of households have pets, and polls continue to show that the public cares deeply about animal welfare, according to the World Animal Foundation (2023-24). Events such as natural disasters shed light on the depth of the human-animal bond. Society recognizes that we have a responsibility to all animals–companion animals, farm animals and wildlife–and that we must be the voice for the voiceless.

In 2012, Ohio ranked 45th in the nation for animal welfare protection according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) annual ranking. Over the last decade, Ohio’s animal welfare advocates worked hard to raise that ranking in 2020 to 30th, and with the passing of comprehensive cross-reporting laws, to 25th in 2022. As of 2024, Ohio rose to 18th in the nation because of our comprehensive advocacy for animals.

Media exposure has driven some positive change in Ohio. However, national news exposed the state’s lack of protection for exotic animals when an exotic pet dealer near Zanesville was found dead and the exotic animals he owned had been freed and had to be killed. This nationally televised tragedy forced the passing of an exotics ban in Ohio. State media attention to the horrific condition of dogs kept in Ohio puppy mills finally led to the passage of puppy mill regulations. The threat of a statewide ballot initiative forced the Governor’s office to come to the table to negotiate the creation of a Livestock Care Standards Advisory Board and standards of practice. These successes came after nearly a decade of advocacy efforts and public pressure.

Mission Areas

Though Ohio has had a notorious reputation for its weak animal protection laws, over the past several years, the state rose to 29th in rank after the passage of puppy mill regulations (Ohio Commercial Dog Breeding Advisory Board); the exotics species ban; the promulgation of livestock care standards; and the passage of bills that enhanced felony cruelty penalties, provided for pet protective orders, and criminalized bestiality and felony cockfighting. There is now opportunity to build on this momentum of the past decade and move Ohio into the forefront of animal protection, using successes as a solid foundation to build on.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund's State Animal Protection Laws Ranking Report places Ohio at 24th out of 50 states. ALDF's comprehensive review of more than 3,400 pages of state animal protection laws in order to rank them by relative strength and effectiveness. ALDF's report also highlights the importance of veterinarian and cross-reporting of animal abuse, and specifically mentions Ohio (Ohio H.B. 33) and Florida enacting comprehensive veterinarian and cross-reporting laws. Click here to view an article spotlighting the legislative efforts that contributed to this jump from 30th to 24th in one year.
There are still critical animal welfare issues to address in Ohio. Many of these issues also impact the human condition in regard to domestic, physical, sexual violence, public safety, and quality of life. Ohio still faces great challenges with puppy mills, animal hoarding, blood sports, chaining and tethering of animals in extreme weather, breed-specific discrimination; companion, equine, and farm animal cruelty; the disregard for feral and non-owned community animals; and the need to reduce the population of homeless animals, thus reducing the euthanasia rate of companion animals in Ohio’s shelters.

Ohio has much progress to make to be able to claim the status of a humane state that enhances the quality of life for all. And we stand ready to win that challenge. Our Program Areas allows us to focus where the highest needs meet our best ability to make progress – please explore each to learn more.

Program Areas