Bills impacting animal ownership, basic animal care, and service animals will be considered in Illinois on Tuesday, February 1.
Those who live or participate in events in Illinois are strongly encouraged to contact the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee using the information below, and also to create witness slips prior to the hearing by clicking on this link, selecting the bills, and following the instructions given to register your position.
The House Judiciary-Criminal Committee has a full agenda on Tuesday with dozens of bills scheduled for consideration, including three impacting dog owners:
House Bill 4641 – Changes to animal forfeiture laws (AKC opposes)
Current law allows a court to consider ordering a person to forfeit animals to a shelter or animal control if there is a conviction of the state’s cruelty laws. In addition, the person convicted, as well as anyone residing in their household, may be prohibited from owning or possessing animals. Among other significant changes, this bill would amend current law to instead allow for these orders on a violation. This includes offenses such as failing to provide proper food, water, shelter, and veterinary care.
The AKC strongly believes that all dog owners must properly care for their animals, and that all animals deserve lives in a safe, humane, and healthy environment. However, while in some cases the violations may be significant, others may be a minor infraction that can be corrected and do not rise to the level of a serious offense. In addition, this change from convictions to violations is a significant shift that could result in dog owners permanently losing their animals for offenses even if they are not convicted of a crime.
House Bill 3996 – Misrepresentation of a service animal (AKC supports)
This bill creates a petty offense for those who knowingly misrepresent a service animal for the purpose of allowing an animal in a place that does not allow non-service animals, or allowing an animal on public transportation that prohibits non-service animals.
AKC supports this bill and condemns the deliberate mischaracterization of service dogs and attempts to benefit from service dog status when the person is not someone with a disability.
House Bill 3917 – Changes to animal cruelty and care laws (AKC has concerns, requesting amendments)
This bill begins with the broad statement that animals are “sentient beings capable of feeling pain, sorrow and fear as well as pleasure, joy and contentment”, and that the “protection of animals from mental and physical abuse…and neglect is at the core of the duties and fundamental responsibilities of the General Assembly.”
As such, House Bill 3917 would make a number of changes to the state laws regarding the care of animals, including:
- Shelter requirements – Current law requires that all owners provide adequate shelter and protection from weather. HB 3917 would expand this to require an enclosed structure sufficient to protect the animal, suitable to age, species, and physical condition. It also states that crates must be of sufficient size to allow the animal to fully stretch out and “move around”. It is unclear if this applies to temporary crating, or whether the enclosed structure is only required for dogs kept permanently outside. AKC is asking the sponsor to clarify this section.
- Exercise requirements – The bill clarifies that all owners must provide humane care and treatment, “including appropriate exercise”. AKC agrees that appropriate exercise is necessary for dogs. However, in this bill, this phrase is not defined, and it is unclear how this will be determined or enforced.
- Keeping dogs outdoors – Current law does not allow dogs or cats to be kept outside for prolonged periods of time in conditions that result in injury, death, hypothermia, frostbite, or other similar conditions. HB 3917 clarifies this law by stating that the dog or cat may not be left outside in extreme weather in a life-threatening situation based on the animal’s age, health, or species. In addition, it also removes the reference to “prolonged period of time”, and states that dogs may not be left outside in extreme heat or cold conditions if conditions may result in injury, death, hypothermia, etc.
AKC believes these changes regarding dogs outdoors may protect some dogs by clarifying that animal control may address those situations where a dog is in danger, without waiting until death or serious injury occurs. AKC appreciates, too, the clarification regarding the animal’s age and health, as this allows for flexibility in enforcement and for owners to allow dogs outside in conditions that can be tolerated by certain dogs. However, this section is still vague and broad. AKC has asked the sponsor to include amendments to also allow for consideration of a dog’s breed and usage (such as hunting, search and rescue, etc.) when determining if a dog may be outside in certain conditions.
Additional concerns are being raised by the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners.
What You Can Do:
Create witness slips prior to the 4pm hearing on February 1 by clicking on this link, selecting the bills on which you wish to record your position, and following the instructions given to register your position. Express your opposition to House Bill 4641, your support for House Bill 3996, and concerns with HB 3917.
Contact the members of the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. Express your opposition to House Bill 4641, your support for House Bill 3996, and concerns and requests for amendments to HB 3917. If you are a constituent of a committee member, be sure to mention that when contacting them.
Justin Slaughter (Chair- Chicago)
Kelly Cassidy (Vice-Chairperson – Chicago)
Chris Bos (Lake Zurich)
Kambium Buckner (Chicago)
David Friess (Red Bud)
Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. (Summit)
Amy Grant (Wheaton)
Will Guzzardi (Chicago)
Deanne Mazzochi (Westmont)
Tony McCombie (Rock Falls)
Delia Ramirez (Chicago)
Dave Severin (Marion)
Anne Stava-Murray (Downers Grove)
Denyse Stoneback (Skokie)
Dave Vella (Loves Park)
Maurice West II (Rockford)
Kathleen Willis (Northlake)
Patrick Windhorst (Harrisburg)
Michael Zalewski (Riverside)
AKC Government Relations and the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners continue to closely monitor all bills impacting Illinois dog owners. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.