As we get ready to say goodbye to 2015 and ring in 2016, a new report is actually a favorable one for the Garden State.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is out with its 10th annual year-end report, ranking all 50 states by their animal protection laws.

New Jersey was the most-improved state in 2015 on this very crucial issue.

"New Jersey catapulted out of the middle-tier and up to the top-tier for animal protection laws this year," said Lora Dunn, an attorney with the group.

Overall, the state jumped 28 slots from 37th in 2014 to 9th in this year's rankings.

So, why such a drastic improvement for New Jersey on this issue?

"Because of its new comprehensive legislation regarding dog fighting," Dunn said. "It categorized dog fighting as a racketeering offense. It is also now criminalizes being a spectator at a dogfight."

Dunn said the second part of New Jersey's efforts are especially important.

"Without spectators, these events would not occur," Dunn explained.

Illinois was first in the rankings for the eighth year in a row, followed by Oregon (2), Maine (3), California (4), and Michigan (5).

Kentucky held steady in last place for the ninth consecutive year.

While New Jersey is on the right track with animal protection laws, there are still some areas that the state could improve on.

Dunn said a major issue is the reporting of animal cruelty incidents by veterinarians, since they are often the only eyes and ears on a pet.

"New Jersey does not, by statute, require or even allow veterinarians to report incidents of animal abuse and neglect."

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