Illinois Dog Owners Face Multiple BSL Threats

AKC and dog owners in Illinois are organizing against state and city measures that ban or severely...

AKC and dog owners in Illinois are organizing against state and city measures that ban or severely restrict specific breeds of dogs. Phone calls, e-mails, and letters to legislators are urgently needed to stop these unfair proposals:

State of Illinois

HB4212: Introduced by Rep. Michael Tryon on December 1st, HB4212 would permit cities to regulate dogs based on their breed, effectively repealing a state law passed only two years ago that prohibits such legislation. The bill further allows an outright ban of "scheduled breeds," defined as American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, "pit bulls," Pit Bull Terriers, Rottweilers and Staffordshire Terriers.

HB4213: Also sponsored by Rep. Tryon, HB4213 automatically deems the above-noted breeds vicious and requires owners of these and other dangerous dogs to maintain liability insurance. The bill further restricts the regulations for keeping these dogs, including requiring them to be muzzled and leashed whenever outside their owners' residence, even in a fenced back-yard. Fines for violations will increase to a minimum of $1001!

SB1790: Sen. Martin Sandoval backed away from his support of this breed-specific bill early in 2005. However, he has recently stated his intent to take up the bill again, perhaps with amendments. As currently written, SB1790 would automatically deem the following breeds dangerous dogs, regardless of any prior aggressive behavior: "Pit bull," Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Doberman Pinscher, Chow Chow, Great Dane, St. Bernard, Akita. Owners would be required to spay or neuter their dogs and abide by strict care conditions.

The American Kennel Club wholeheartedly supports legislators' desire to protect their constituents and prevent tragic incidents from occurring. However, breed specific dangerous dog laws are ineffective at keeping communities safe. Rather than hold all dog owners accountable for their behavior, these laws place restrictions only on the owners of certain breeds of dogs. If specific breeds are banned, owners intent on using their dogs for malicious purposes, such as dog fighting or criminal activities, will simply change to another breed of dog and continue to jeopardize public safety.

HB4212 and S1790 will do little to address the root cause of dangerous dog problems--irresponsible owners. Rather, strongly enforced dog control laws such as leash laws, generic guidelines for dealing with dangerous dogs, and increased public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are all positive ways to protect communities from future dog attacks.

What You Can Do:

  • Contact the sponsors of these bills to express your concerns. It is particularly important for legislators to hear from their constituents. To find out who represents you in Illinois, visit: http://www.elections.il.gov/
    DistrictLocator/SelectSearchType.aspx?NavLink=1


    Rep. Michel Tryon
    244-W Stratton Office Bldg
    Springfield, IL 62706
    (217) 782-0432

    Rep. Mark H. Beaubein, Jr.
    (Co-sponsor of HB4212 and HB4213)
    314 Capitol Building
    Springfield, IL 62706
    (217) 782-1517

    Sen. Martin Sandoval
    118 Capitol Building
    Springfield, IL 62706
    (217) 782-5304
    sandoval@senatedem.state.il.us
     
  • Watch AKC's web site. We will share news of developments, including committee referrals and hearing dates, as they become available. In the past, dangerous dog bills have been assigned to the Agriculture Committees in their respective houses, and that is likely to happen again.

 

Chicago

Alderman Virginia Rugai has again introduced a proposal that would restrict ownership of "pit bulls" in Chicago and prohibit new "pit bulls" from being brought into the city. The proposal defines "pit bulls" as American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers or any mixed breed containing these breeds. Violators would face fines up to $1,000, possible jail sentences of up to six months and impoundment of their animals.

Owners of "pit bulls" currently residing in the city would be required to have their dogs microchipped, spayed or neutered and kept in specified pens when they are outside. They would further be required to and erect fences and post warning signs on their property. Additionally, no owner would be allowed to have more than two dangerous dogs, including "pit bulls."

Although Illinois state law prohibits local governments from enacting breed-specific ordinances, the city attorney's office argues that Chicago can pass such a proposal because of its home rule authority. Home rule gives larger municipalities additional powers to establish laws and impose taxes.

What You Can Do:

  • Contact Ald. Rugai and voice your opposition. Ask her to withdraw the proposal in favor of a strongly-enforced dangerous dog ordinance.

    Alderman Virginia Rugai
    Email: vrugai@cityofchicago.org
    Phone: 312-744-3072
    Fax: 773-238-9049
     
  • Contact your local Alderman and ask him or her to oppose this measure. To find out who represents you on the Board of Alderman, click here. It is critical that officials hear from their own constituents!

    Chicago City Council
    City Hall
    121 N. Lasalle Street, Rm 209
    Chicago, IL 60602
    Phone: 312-744-6800
    Fax: 312-744-6824

 

Points to Address:

  • Breed-specific laws are not the best way to protect communities. An owner intent on using his or her dogs for malicious purposes will simply be able to switch to another type of dog and continue to jeopardize public safety. The list of regulated breeds or types could grow every year without ever addressing responsible dog ownership. Deeds, not breeds, should be addressed.
     
  • Breed-specific laws are hard to enforce. Breed identification requires expert knowledge of the individual breeds, placing great burden on local officials.
     
  • Breed-specific laws are unfair to responsible owners.
     
  • Breed-specific laws increase costs for the community. Shelter costs for the community could rise as citizens abandon targeted breeds and adoptable dogs of the targeted breeds could be euthanized at the shelter.
     
  • Some communities have had their breed-specific laws overturned on constitutional grounds. Because proper identification of what dogs would be included is difficult or impossible, the law may be deemed unconstitutionally vague.
     
  • Strongly enforced animal control laws (such as leash laws), generic guidelines on dealing with dangerous dogs and increased public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are all better ways to protect communities from dangerous animals.
     
  • Breed-specific legislation is opposed by the AKC, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Control Association, the ASPCA, and a host of national animal welfare organizations that have studied the issue and recognize that targeting breeds simply does not work.

 

For more information, please contact:

Illinois Dog Clubs and Breeders Association
Lotzadots101@aol.com

AKC's Canine Legislation department
919-816-3720
doglaw@akc.org