CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed House Bill 61, creating the Pet Overpopulation Control Fund to provide grants to nonprofit, tax-exempt humane societies for the humane sterilization of dogs and cats in the state.
“It’s a sad fact that there are more dogs and cats in need of homes in Illinois than there are places for them,” Gov. Ryan said. “Unfortunately, there will probably always be animals without a loving home, but this bill will ensure that number is much smaller in the future.”
Effective June 1, 2002, House Bill 61 will amend the State Finance Act and Vehicle Code, authorizing the Secretary of State to create a new “Pet Friendly” license plate. Through the creation of these special plates, House Bill 61 creates a revenue source to help Illinois’ humane societies ensure the sterilization of animals in Illinois at minimal to no cost to the state.
The bill originated out of the efforts of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to prevent pet overpopulation. According to the ASPCA, last year in Chicago alone 36,000 dogs and cats were euthanized because of the increasingly large population. House Bill 61 is intended to save counties and municipalities money by reducing the number of unwanted animals, and the likelihood of spreading diseases such as rabies.
Money from the Pet Overpopulation Control Fund will be paid, subject to General Assembly appropriation and approval by the Secretary of State, as grants to humane societies which are exempt from federal income taxation. The Secretary of State shall consider recommendations for grants made by a volunteer board consisting of 5 Illinois residents who are officers or directors of humane societies in different regions of the state.
Illinois now joins fifteen other states across the country that have passed laws creating specialized license plates to provide funding for animal sterilization programs. New Jersey offers similar license plates and has raised approximately $2 million for the state’s Pet Overpopulation Program.
HB 61 was sponsored in the House by Representatives Sara Feigenholtz, (D-Chicago); Jay Hoffman, (D-Collinsville); William Black, (R-Danville); Cynthia Soto, (D-Chicago); Thomas Dart, (D-Chicago); and in the Senate by Senators Kirk Dillard, (R-Hinsdale); Lawrence Walsh, (D-Elwood); Christine Radogno, (R-LaGrange); Judith Myers, (R-Danville) and Adeline J. Geo-Karis, (R-Zion).