Illinois has some of the best humane laws in the nation, but one of those laws is making it difficult for animal rescue groups to help strays.
The Humane Care for Animals Act defines "owner" as any person who (a) has a right of property in an animal, (b) keeps or harbors an animal, (c) has an animal in his care, or (d) acts as custodian of an animal.
Sec. 3.01 includes abandonment in the definition of cruel treatment: "No person or owner may beat, cruelly treat, torment, starve, overwork or otherwise abuse any animal. No owner may abandon any animal where it may become a public charge or may suffer injury, hunger or exposure."
This means that rescue groups such as Gateway Pet Guardians, who feed and fostercare stray dogs in poverty stricken areas, could be charged with "abandonment" if they don't have a foster home to keep the dog or cat off the streets once the animal has been sterilized and vaccinated. Instead of being able to provide stray animals with vet care and prevent unwanted litters, the animals are left to continue producing more litters, adding to the homeless pet problem.
Programs that trap, neuter/vaccinate and return are essential to stop the killing in our shelters.
Illinois Representative Tom Holbrook is attempting to clarify the law. He has introduced HB 240 which would ensure that TNR is not be a violation of the Humane Care for Animals Act. It would also save taxpayers money by reducing the number of animals coming into animal control agencies throughout the state.
Photo Credit: Nigella by Gateway Pet Guardians