Two bills will be considered in Illinois on Tuesday, April 10, that would allow private citizens to remove animals from locked vehicles if they have a good faith belief the animal is in imminent danger.
The AKC agrees that no person or animal should ever be left in a situation where their health or safety is in danger. Those who would leave them in such a situation – including a vehicle – should be held accountable. However, as currently written, House Bill 4191 and Senate Bill 2294 could lead to lost dogs, property damage, and other unintended consequences.
These bills would permit anyone to remove an unattended companion animal from a motor vehicle if they believe the animal is at risk of serious injury or death. They further state that the person may not be held liable for any damages, including loss of the animal or any injury caused by the animal.
The bills do require that the person attempt to call a law enforcement officer, emergency medical services officer, an animal control officer, or 9-1-1; and also require the person remain with the animal until they arrive.
There is no recourse, however, for the owner for damage incurred when the animal in the car was not in danger, or for protection if the dog harms someone as a result of being removed from the vehicle. These protections are especially important if the animal flees the car and roams at large or bites someone.
Another concern is the risk of dog theft. A trend on the rise across the United States is known as “dog flipping”, where dogs are stolen and then resold online for a profit. The statistics have dramatically increased since the AKC began tracking this trend in 2008.
There also is no requirement for immediate veterinary care, which, if the dog is believed to be in imminent danger, should be required.
What You Can Do:
- File an online witness slip to be sent to each committee by Tuesday, April 10. This must be complete by 7:45 am for House Bill 4191 and by 4:45 pm for Senate Bill 2294 . To do this, visit http://my.ilga.gov and click register to create an account. Once you are registered, select “House”, then the Tort Liability Law Subcommittee. Click the gavel icon, then “view legislation” and select House Bill 4191. When creating a witness slip, you may type “self” in the representation box and then click “opponent” and “record of appearance only.” Repeat these steps for the House Judiciary-Civil Committee.
Click on “Senate” and repeat these steps for the Criminal Law Committee and select Senate Bill 2294.
These steps will show the committees the number of people who are concerned with the measure, even if you are not physically present at the hearing.
- Contact BOTH the House Tort Liability Law Subcommittee and House Judiciary-Civil Committee prior to the hearing on April 10 at 8:00 am and express your comments and concerns with House Bill 4191. Click on the links for committee contact information.
- Contact the Senate Criminal Law Committee prior to the hearing on April 10 at 5:00 pm and express your comments and concerns with Senate Bill 2294. View the list of committee members and obtain their contact information here.
AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will continue to closely monitor this bill and provide updates. For more information, contact the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners at firstname.lastname@example.org or AKC GR at email@example.com.