On Tuesday, May 11, an Illinois House Committee will consider Senate Bill 153, which would provide an animal a court advocate in cases involving the health, safety, or an injury of a dog or cat.
SB 153 is similar to bills introduced in other states this year, and is part of an effort to alter the legal status of animals by providing them with rights, including individual representation. Such rights and privileges are traditionally reserved for children and other people lacking legal capacity.
AKC abhors animal cruelty and strongly believes that those who harm animals should be held accountable. However, bills such as SB 153 implicitly establish rights for animals, but do nothing to improve the wellbeing of animals or enforce laws to protect animals. Illinois already has numerous state laws regarding animal cruelty and neglect, and an appropriate judicial process in place to handle these situations.
At the very least, AKC is asking the committee to add an amendment stating that nothing in the bill changes the legal status of animals as property under Illinois law.
For talking points and more information:
- View one-pager Laws That Provide Court- Appointed Animal Advocates Could Undermine Animal Welfare
- Visit AKC GR’s Legal Status of Animals Key Issues Page
- Read AKC’s previous alert
What You Can Do:
Submit a witness slip in opposition – Visit the committee hearing page and click on the pencil icon next to Senate Bill 153. Follow the instructions to create a witness slip in opposition.
Contact the House sponsor – Respectfully express your opposition and ask if she would at least consider an amendment protecting the legal status of animals as property:
Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (Aurora)
Contact the members of the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee prior to the May 11 hearing – If you are a constituent of a committee member, use the form provided to contact the committee. Otherwise, use the following contact information:
Justin Slaughter (Chair- Chicago)
Chris Bos (Lake Zurich)
Kambium Buckner (Chicago)
Kelly Cassidy (Chicago)
David Friess (Red Bud)
Edgar Gonzalez (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 (Rockford)
Kathleen Willis (Northlake)
Patrick Windhorst (Harrisburg)
Michael Zalewski (Riverside)
AKC Government Relations and the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners continue to monitor this and all Illinois legislation impacting dog owners. For more information, visit the AKC Legislative Action Center or email firstname.lastname@example.org.