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— May 20, 2014 —

Bad Legislation and how you can help.
by Daniel McElroy Jr.

We, as a community of interested pet owners, need to be more involved in the legislation that affect us, our dogs and needy animals throughout our state.

In Chicago, as well as other cities in Illinois, small, privately run pet rescues like K9 4 KEEPS, NFP are able to pull dogs and cats from death row at city pounds and find them homes. Usually, these animals need medical care, shots, neutering and so on. These animals usually end up costing rescues anywhere from $500 to $1,000.00 to rehab and make adoption-ready (the sky is the limit really if an animal gets sick or has medical needs above and beyond standard care).

Rescues raise money for these activities by soliciting tax-deductible donations to pay for the care that the animals need. This takes a HUGE financial burden off of city pounds and saves dogs and cats that would have otherwise been euthanized.

Recently, a very bad bill (SB0648) was introduced in the Illinois legislature. It would have basically (among other things) made it illegal for publicly funded animal care facilities (read: the city pound) to transfer dogs and cats to smaller private non-profit rescues in Illinois. The dogs and cats in the pound could only be transferred to out-of-state rescues, which have their own pet overpopulation issues.

Even in Illinois, every bill that is proposed has to have some perceived benefit to someone…somewhere. Otherwise they wouldn’t have proposed it, right? This bill seemed to be an exception. I asked around and I couldn’t get an answer at to why this bill was proposed in the first place. In all my posts on social media, and in private messages, not one person could give me an answer as to what this bill was actually intended to accomplish. I assume SOMEONE thought this bill was a good thing, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what that was!

Bill SB0648 passed the Illinois Senate and went to the House where it was assigned to the Agriculture & Conservation Committee on 5/13/2014. Fortunately, the bill has been “tabled” by the committee which is a term meaning that it is not up for consideration at the current time. It can be tweaked and reintroduced at a later date during the legislative session, but shelter animals are safe from this particular danger for now.

How do I know all this? Glad you asked.

The following is a link to the Illinois General Assembly “Bills and Resolutions” web page for the Bill Status of SB0648. This site basically gives you all the information you need to see every law that is being proposed in Illinois and where they are in the voting process. It has handy links to contact the people who are sponsoring and voting on bills. Lastly, it tells you where the bill is as far as being passed or not.

Considering that many people are pretty uninvolved with what the legislature/government does on a daily basis, I believe a polite, yet firmly worded email from a few thousand registered Illinois voters would have a significant effect on how our legislators vote.

I recommend that everyone get familiar with this site. As a general rule, I think that we should be keeping a close eye on the people who are elected to public office and this is one way to do just that. Bill SB0648, if not opposed could lead to thousands of animals being euthanized needlessly. It’s our job, as rescuers and animal lovers to protect these animals, even from the misguided attempts of those that think they are doing something good when they are not.

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