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Animal Welfare Advocates Urge Illinois Lawmakers to Protect Pets at “Voices for Animals Day”

Citizens join animal welfare groups to call for increased penalties for animal abuse and stronger wildlife protections
May 7, 2014

NEW YORK—Illinois citizens concerned about animal welfare converged on the state capitol for ‘Voices for Animals Day’ in Springfield on Wednesday to lobby for better laws to protect animals. The event was sponsored by the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Born Free USA, and the Illinois Animal Welfare Federation.

Participants met with state legislators to lobby in support of animal protection bills, including HB 3768, which would increase penalties for abusing an animal in front of a child. Advocates also urged lawmakers to reject HB 4226, which would remove an existing prohibition on trapping and hunting bobcats.

Vicki Deisner, state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Midwest region, said: “The dwindling population of Illinois wildlife calls for an urgent push to protect these animals. The ASPCA is proud to co-sponsor Illinois Voices for Animals Day and give citizen advocates an opportunity to engage with their representatives. We look forward to working with lawmakers to increase protections for all animals throughout the state.”

Carson Barylak, federal policy advisor, for AWI, said: “AWI is proud to be a part of Illinois Voices for Animals Day and we applaud the advocates who have come to Springfield to speak up on behalf of animals. They communicated a powerful message to their legislators – that voters care about animals, and that there is strong support for protecting both wildlife and domestic animals in Illinois.”

Kate Dylewsky, program associate, for Born Free USA, said: “Voices for Animals Day is a tremendous opportunity for constituents to connect with their legislators on issues that really matter to them. Face time with elected officials is a powerful tool to effect change on animal welfare topics that are often overlooked. Born Free USA is proud to be a partner at this event as we fight for wildlife protections in Illinois.”

Lauren Malmberg, secretary, for the Illinois Animal Welfare Federation, said: “The Illinois Animal Welfare Federation is excited to be a part of Voices for Animals Day. Our organization’s members work daily in the trenches to alleviate animal cruelty and promote the human-animal bond. Lobby Day gives us an opportunity to influence legislators and others about important animal legislation that will help us in our work. How appropriate we can do this during Be Kind to Animals Week!”

In 2013, the dedicated work of animal advocates in Illinois resulted in the enactment of four laws to protect animals including: a pet lemon law to hold pet stores accountable if they sell puppies who later become ill; the establishment of a training program for local law enforcement to combat animal fighting; creation of standards to improve the lives of dogs that are continually tethered; and a law to provide humane options for farm animals running at large.

For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.

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About AWI
The Animal Welfare Institute is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 to alleviate the suffering caused to animals by humans. For more information, please visit AWI online at http://www.awionline.org/. Also, be sure to follow AWI on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/animalwelfareinstitute and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AWIOnline.

About Born Free USA
Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to the United States the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will Travers, now chief executive officer of both organizations. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

About Illinois Animal Welfare Federation
The Illinois Animal Welfare Federation is a not-for-profit association of humane societies, animal control agencies, rescue groups and other animal welfare groups. They provide training opportunities for animal welfare enthusiasts and resources for anyone with a question or concern. They believe education of leaders is paramount to advancing the care, treatment and respect of all animals. As leaders in animal welfare, they provide valued and respected resources to community members, elected officials and animal organizations.