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An Illinois House committee is scheduled to consider a bill on Tuesday, March 7, that would allow the court to appoint a “special advocate” to represent the interests of animals during cases that involve the animal’s health, safety, or an injury.  The “special advocate” would be a law student.

The AKC abhors any type of negligence or cruelty to animals and supports full enforcement of existing negligence and cruelty laws.  However, AKC is concerned that the creation of court-appointed animal advocates will result in legal controversies about who is responsible for an animal, and ultimately impact the ability and rights of pet owners to freely choose the most appropriate course of care and treatment for their pets.  In addition, individual owners may be forced to give up their ownership rights to third parties and appointees could force someone to make decisions they do not believe to be in the best interest of their animals. 

Another concern is that House Bill 2981 provides advocates akin to guardians ad litem that are traditionally used to protect the interests of minors and other people lacking legal capacity.  This would vastly expand the legal interpretation of animals and lead to unintended consequences.  Visit AKC’s Legislative Action Center Key Issues page on the Legal Status of Animals for more talking points and information on this issue. 

What You Can Do:

All concerned dog owners in Illinois are encouraged to contact the Illinois House Judiciary-Criminal Committee prior to the hearing on Tuesday, March 7, and ask them to oppose House Bill 2981:

Rep. Elgie Sims, Jr. (Chair)
(217) 782-6476

Rep. Kelly Cassidy (Vice-Chair)
(217) 782-8088

Rep. Brian Stewart
(217) 782-8186

Rep. Terri Bryant
(217) 782-0387

Rep. John Cabello
(217) 782-0455

Rep. Will Guzzardi
(217) 558-1032

Rep. Rita Mayfield
(217) 558-1012

Rep. Christian Mitchell
(217) 782-2023

Rep. Elaine Nekritz
(217) 558-1004

Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst
(217) 782-5981

Rep. Justin Slaughter
(217) 782-0010
Fax: (217) 782-1795

Rep. Juliana Stratton
(217) 782-4535

Rep. Barbara Wheeler
(217) 782-1664

The AKC Government Relations Department at Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners are closely monitoring this legislation.  For more information, e-mail