CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today took action to protect animals across Illinois by fighting puppy mills. The Governor today signed a new law that was proposed by three dedicated third-graders from Arlington Heights and increases penalties for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Today’s action, taken at a Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS) event in Chicago, is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure that all animals are treated humanely in Illinois.
“Our pets are a part of the family, and we must always treat them with care and respect,” Governor Quinn said. “Three students from Arlington Heights created this new law because they wanted to make a difference and protect animals across Illinois.”
House Bill 4410, sponsored by State Representative David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) and State Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), increases fines on anyone that violates the state’s Animal Welfare Act, which makes it a crime to mistreat animals. A first violation is more than doubled from $200 to $500; a second violation is doubled from $500 to $1,000; and a third violation will result in a $2,500 fine in addition to a probationary status for the violator. The law is effective immediately.
This bipartisan measure was conceived by Claire Hackmann, Brooke Martin and Maddie O’Dell, third grade students from Patton Elementary School in Arlington Heights. Claire, Brooke and Maddie read a book about two students that rescued a puppy from a puppy mill, which led them to research puppy mills and contact Representative Harris about ways to limit these operations. Their lobbying efforts included a presentation at an all-school assembly to members of Patton Elementary School faculty, gathering signatures from students and concerned citizens and even testifying before the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee.
“It is great to see the Animal Welfare Act updated by House Bill 4410 for the protection of all animals, and it is wonderful that the initiative for the bill was started by three third graders from Patton School,” Representative Harris said. “I am proud to have been able to help them, and I applaud their dedication in pushing the bill."
“This legislation was an initiative of a class at Patton School in Arlington Heights to ensure that pet stores, dog dealers and those that board cats and dogs properly comply with the Animal Welfare Act,” Senator Althoff said. “Most dealers and kennel operators are professionals who take their responsibilities seriously, but unfortunately, there are always exceptions and under current law, the penalties being enforced for those who violate the Animal Welfare Act were too minimal to deter irresponsible breeders and dealers from mistreating or abusing animals in their care. Increasing the administrative fines for those who violate the Act will offer greater protection for animal welfare and ensure that violators are held accountable.”
"We applaud the state of Illinois and Governor Quinn for working to deter the abuse and neglect of animals by increasing fines for violators of the Animal Welfare Act,” PAWS Chicago Founder Paula Fasseas said. “Animals are defenseless living beings and we must be their voice and protectors."
In addition to signing House Bill 4410, the Governor today also issued an executive order creating the Illinois Pet Advocacy Task Force. The Task Force will study issues of animal cruelty, neglect and abuse and make recommendations that will ensure proper treatment and care of Illinois pets. The Task Force will issue a report to the Governor and the General Assembly within 12 months
The legislation was signed at PAWS Chicago, Chicago’s largest no-kill shelter. PAWS is focused on solutions to end the killing of homeless pets. Since the organization’s founding in 1997, the number of homeless pets killed in the city has been reduced by nearly 70 percent, from 42,561 to fewer than 14,000 last year. The animal rescue spares animals from this fate and provides them with a forever home. For more information about PAWS Chicago and pet adoption, visit http://www.pawschicago.org.
Governor Quinn is the proud owner of a rescue dog named Rosie, a Yorkshire Terrier mix whom he adopted from PAWS. The Governor has long been a pet lover and advocate for the humane treatment of animals. Last year he signed the “Puppy Lemon Law” to give buyers protection for pet purchases and to help reduce the possibility of emotional trauma that comes from losing a pet. He also signed new laws to help ensure that all dogs in Illinois are treated humanely when tethered outside and to provide humane options for stray farm animals such as adoption or placement in a sanctuary.