NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds Illinois legislators for passing four animal-friendly bills during the 2013 legislative session. The new laws include Senate Bill 1639, which will create disincentive for pet stores to sell puppy mill dogs by holding pet stores accountable if they sell animals who become ill, and House Bill 3388, which establishes a training program for law enforcement officers in local government to crack down on animal fighting. The bills now head to the desk of Gov. Patrick Quinn, who has 60 days to sign them into law.
"We applaud Illinois lawmakers for recognizing that citizens care about animal welfare and passing legislation to protect animals throughout the state," said Vicki Deisner, state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Midwest region. "We thank them for making Illinois safer for animals, as well as consumers and citizens, and we urge Governor Quinn to swiftly sign these bills into law."
The Illinois Legislature passed the following humane measures in 2013:
- Senate Bill 1639, sponsored by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), will ensure that pet stores who sell dogs are held accountable if their puppies become ill. This measure will not only protect consumers, but it will also remove the dog breeding facilities that put profit ahead of the wellbeing of the animals.
- House Bill 3388, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Oak Lawn), establishes a training program for local law enforcement officers to address the animal fighting industry. The training will cover how to identify animal fighting and effectively address the animal abuse and severe dangers to public safety inherent in this cruel blood sport.
- House Bill 83, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Burke (D-Chicago), will create standards that will improve the lives of dogs that are continually tethered, a practice that causes physical and emotional suffering. The psychological trauma a dog experiences alone at the end of a chain for an entire life leads to fear and aggression. Tethered dogs are more likely to bite than dogs who are free.
- House Bill 733, sponsored by Rep. Katherine Cloonen (D-Kankakee), provides for humane options for farm animals running at large. Previously, the only option for stray farm animals was to send them to slaughter auctions. This bill gives them a chance to be adopted or, if the animals are in poor health, allows for them to be humanely euthanized.
"Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills," added Deisner. "SB 1639 will hold pet stores accountable for selling unhealthy animals, which will aid in reducing the demand for puppies from substandard commercial breeders."
If Gov. Quinn signs SB 1639, Illinois will become the 21st state to enact a puppy lemon law. The ASPCA's national No Pet Store Puppies campaign aims to reduce the demand for puppy mill puppies by urging consumers to pledge not to buy any items – including food, supplies or toys – from stores or websites that sell puppies.
Additionally, HB 3388 will address the dog fighting problem in Illinois, by training officers on how to respond to animal abuse, cruelty and neglect. This illegal activity is often organized and associated with gang activities and is very difficult to respond to unless reportedly immediately.
"Animal fighting is a public safety issue and a serious animal welfare issue," said Tim Rickey, vice president of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. "Illegal gambling, drugs and other crimes are frequently entrenched in this cruel blood sport, which often results in the death of the animals involved."
The ASPCA's Field Investigations and Response team has rescued countless animals from animal fighting investigations across the nation and most recently rescued nearly 100 dogs in a multi-state, federal dog fighting raid with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement. Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.