This past weekend, the Illinois General Assembly adjourned a very busy spring session for dog owners and trainers.
We thank the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs, and all who took the time to file witness slips and contact legislators. Together we are making a difference for dogs in Illinois.
Below are the latest updates on the key bills we tracked this session. The General Assembly will come back this fall for a veto session, and it is unclear if any animal issues will be considered at that time. Bills still pending will also carry over to the 2024 session.
It is important for clubs to take the following actions during this interim to ensure your voice continues to be heard:
1) If you have not yet done so, introduce yourself and your club to state and local lawmakers. You can use the links provided to access our sample introduction letters. Consider inviting lawmakers to your shows and events, CGC evaluations, or any other activities you are doing in your local community.
2) Make sure your club has a Legislative Liaison and that AKC GR has the most up to date contact information. Emailing alerts to your club officers and Legislative Liaisons is the primary way we communicate the latest information to you so you can quickly take action. Please contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org to update your information.
3) If you have not yet done so, consider joining the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners as a club or individual. They are sending out information and updates in addition to those provided by AKC, and also paying for a lobbyist who has been instrumental this session in ensuring access to key members. For more information contact IFDCO at email@example.com or visit https://ifdco.org.
Updates on Illinois Bills of Interest:
- House Bill 1049 – Preventing Breed Discrimination in Insurance
Status: Passed both chambers, will be sent to the governor
Summary: House Bill 1049 would prohibit homeowners’ and renters’ insurers from canceling, refusing, or raising premiums for coverage based solely on the breed of dog owned by the insured. AKC supports this bill, which is a good first step in protecting resident Illinois dog owners.
- Senate Bill 1499 – Expanding Laws Regarding Seizure of Animals
Status: Passed both houses with some IFDCO/AKC amendments, will be sent to the governor.
Summary: Senate Bill 1499 as introduced would have allowed a person to face forfeiture of their animals for virtually any violation of state law regarding the care of animals. AKC and IFDCO expressed concerns about the one-size-fits- all nature of this punishment that could include minor, correctable infractions that do not rise to the level of a serious offense. After meeting with the sponsor and county and state attorneys, the bill was amended to only apply to true acts of cruelty. A further amendment was added that allows for a person to be under supervision rather than convicted of certain cruelty charges. AKC will be closely monitoring to see how this bill will be enforced, should it be signed by the governor.
- House Bill 3200 – Genetic Testing and Mandatory Sterilization
Status: This bill was held in the House Agriculture and Conservation. AKC and IFDCO are reaching out to the sponsor to alternatives to address concerns.
Summary: House Bill 3200 would require genetic testing for all dogs owned by dog breeders. If any “genetic defect or mutation that causes early death or physical impairments” is found, the dog must be immediately sterilized. AKC and IFDCO have provided extensive information to the sponsor on this issue and continue to work with her.
- House Bill 1169 – “Lawyers for Dogs”
Status: This bill was held in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee.
Summary: House Bill 1169 would provide a separate legal advocate (lawyer) for dogs or cats in court cases involving its health, safety, or an injury. AKC opposes providing rights traditionally reserved for humans to animals, as is proposed here. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. At the request of AKC, an amendment was added clarifying that the section does not change the legal status of animals as property, but concerns still remain and AKC and IFDCO continue to communicate with the sponsor.
- Senate Bill 1372 – Regulation of All Dog Trainers
Status: The sponsor committed to AKC to not allow the bill to advance as written. We along with national training organizations continue to work with the sponsor.
Summary: Senate Bill 1372 as introduced seeks to require licensing for all dog trainers in the state. This would include handling, agility, CGC, performance events, and other training classes. AKC GR, the Illinois federation, and multiple national dog training organizations are expressing strong concerns with this bill, which would only allow for one training philosophy and could result in severely limiting training options in the state. AKC GR and the Illinois federation, along with other national training organizations and local trainers, have been in multiple meetings with the sponsor and committee where the bill was assigned. The sponsor has committed to continuing to work with us.
- House Bill 3695 – Expansion of “exotic animal” law to potentially include dogs
Status: This bill was held in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee
Summary: House Bill 3695 as introduced would expand the laws prohibiting exotic animals from being used for exhibition in the state. However, as introduced, the bill defines “exotic animal” as any animal that does not originate in the United States. AKC GR and IFDCO reached out to the sponsor asking for an amendment to clarify that this definition does not apply to domesticated animals, including dogs. The sponsor committed to holding the bill for the 2023 session.
AKC and IFDCO continue to closely monitor all bills impacting dogs and dog owners/breeders/trainers in the state and meet with key legislators. For questions or more information contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org or IFDCO via the information provided above.