It's no secret that Americans love their pets.

While about 70% of U.S. household own a pet, according to new research, some states are not as pet-friendly as others.

Using data from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, BringFido, and the nØkill Network SafeWise, an independent professional review and comparison site, developed a list of the most and least pet-friendly states in the country for 2019.

Kentucky ranked eighth among the 10 least pet-friendly states in the country.

The 10 least pet-friendly states, respectively, were Iowa, Missouri, Wyoming, New York, Mississippi, Utah, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico and North Dakota.

The 10 most pet-friend states, respectively, were Oregon, Colorado, Maine, California, Washington, Louisiana, Virginia, Rhoda Island, Texas and New Hampshire.

SafeWise looked at things like the number of anti-abuse laws, veterinarians and no-kill shelters in each state. Pet-friendly restaurants, hotels, and activities were also factors in the ranking.

It comes as no surprise Kentucky ranks low on the list of pet-friendly states. For many years, Kentucky has ranked incredibly low on national studies of animal welfare.

In 2018, the Animal Legal Defense Fund ranked Kentucky worst in the country for animals, citing Kentucky has no prohibition of sexual assault of animals; felony animal cruelty and animal fighting only covers limited species; veterinarians are prohibited from reporting suspected abuse; and there are no statutory provisions for post-conviction restitution or forfeiture, except in cases involving horses.

In Clark County, we have seen numerous cases of animal cruelty and neglect in recent years. One case, which is still under investigation, was reported in Tuesday's edition of The Sun.

While much of the protection for animals and pets will come down to more strict legislation, there are some things pet owners can do to ensure their pet's safety, especially in the summer months.

SafeWise offered these tips

• Keep food and water out. Pets need plenty of water and food during the summer season. Be sure to wash bowls often to avoid contamination.

•Remember the first aid kit. If you take your hounds on a hike or for any outdoor outing, be sure to prepare for anything. It's wise to at least have bandages and ointment. If something happens, these supplies can help until you get them to the vet.

• Avoid outdoor parasites. The outdoors are full of exciting new sights and smells, but don't let your dog into tall grass or dense forests. These areas can be full of creepy crawlies that could cause serious damage to your pet's health. Ticks, for example, carry Lyme disease and other health hazards. Talk to your veterinarian to learn more about parasite prevention.

• Be sensitive to your pet's limits. Your pet is your best friend, so help them avoid anything that makes them uncomfortable or anxious. It can be tempting during the summer months to take your aging dog on long walks or to fireworks displays. But if they have weak joints or are afraid of loud noises, it's better to keep them company at home.

• Avoid toxic plants and garden products. Garden products like fertilizers can be highly toxic to cats and dogs. Before purchasing anything for your garden, do a little research (or just read the label). If an emergency happens, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. These trained professionals are available around the clock and every day of the year to help in a crisis.

• Protect their paws. When you wear shoes, it's easy to forget how hot the pavement or sidewalk can get on a summer day. But if you take your dog on a midday walk, the hot concrete can damage their paws quickly. Instead, save the walks for mornings or late evenings when the sidewalks are cool enough for their bare paws.

• Keep them cool. Sweaty summer afternoons can take a toll on your dogs or cats, especially if they have thick fur. If you keep your pets outside while you're away in summer, be sure they have access to shade, fresh water and food. Dogs like Huskies aren't designed for 98-degree weather. So leave thick-coated critters with a plastic kiddie pool or a cooling vest.

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