Best Friends Animal Society applauds the recent passage of four pieces of legislation by the Illinois legislature that will improve animal welfare across the state.
These bills will prohibit retail pet sales, help end dog breed discrimination by insurance companies and make public housing more pet inclusive, and increase sterilization options for shelter dogs and cats in the state. House Bill 1711 and Senate Bills 154, 1672 and 1673 passed the Illinois General Assembly and now await Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature.
“Illinois has made historic steps to save the lives of more pets across the state,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “From breaking down unfair barriers to housing for families with pets, to protecting animals from inhumane breeding, and encouraging innovative sterilization practices, Illinois is helping lead the country toward no-kill by 2025.”
HB 1711, sponsored by Sens. Linda Holmes and Christina Castro and Rep. Andrew Chesney, would prohibit Illinois pet stores from selling cats and dogs but would allow stores to host adoption events with shelters and rescue groups. This legislation would make Illinois the fifth U.S. state to stop pet stores from selling dogs and cats, a key to ending inhumane breeding mills, which supply the majority of pets sold in retail stores.
SB 154 would require housing providers who receive funds from the Affordable Housing Act Trust Fund as of Jan. 1, 2022, to allow tenants in 500 square feet or larger units to have at least two cats or one dog that weighs less than 50 pounds. They would not be able to prohibit dogs because of their breed or weight. Currently, responsible pet owners in some Illinois state-financed housing are being told their pets are not welcome because of breed-based or weight-based restrictions.
In addition, many homeowners and renters are being denied or canceled insurance coverage by some insurance companies simply because of the breed or mix of their pet. SB 1672 would require insurance companies to report data on all dog-related claims to help bring an end to breed discrimination. Best Friends believes that insurance companies should focus on the behavior of the individual dog and the owner, not unfairly cancel or deny insurance simply because of the breed of the pet dog.
Organizations including the CDC, the American Bar Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the National Animal Control Association reject breed-based regulations, and these bills would help break down an additional barrier to housing for responsible Illinois dog owners. Nationwide, housing is the number two reason pets are surrendered to shelters. In 2019, 11,393 pets were killed in shelters in Illinois.
SB 1673 changes the words spay/neuter to sterilize to allow shelter veterinarians to use nonsurgical sterilization on shelter dogs and cats in addition to spaying or neutering. According to the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs, nonsurgical sterilants are in the process of being developed for this use.
SB 154, 1672, and 1673 were sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes, Rep. Stephanie Kifowit and Rep. Katie Stuart and spearheaded by Best Friends with the support of numerous other organizations.