UPDATE 2/14/11 – We have confirmed that HB1166 has been removed from the table and will not be pursued! Great job, everyone!
Folks, its time to get on the phone & time to start sending emails.
Rep. Verschoore in Milan, IL has introduced HB1166 to our state animal welfare law. HB1166 says “the definition of a companion animal hoarder means a person who is in possession of 7 or more companion animals”. That’s right – it says if you have 7 animals, you are a hoarder.
Further, HB1166 says you’ll need to apply for a special county permit to prove that you’re not a ‘hoarder’, a psychological disease characterized by several criteria of which the number of animals in possession is but one. Guilty of mental illness until proven innocent.
The language of HB1166 is so vague that volunteers who foster puppies and kittens would be pushed into “hoarder” classification. Most people involved in rescue, breeding, 4H, training, agility, or TNR would now become hoarders. And if you don’t get that permit? You’d be “guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and a second or subsequent violation is a Class 4 felony with every day that a violation continues constituting a separate offense.” So do you apply for a permit and risk being denied and having your animals seized? Or do you become a criminal and not apply at all? This Catch-22 is just one way HB1166 makes criminals out of responsible citizens.
Are you enraged? You should be. What HB1166 actually does, is impose a statewide pet limit law. Studies have shown that pet limit laws do nothing to curb animal abuse and in reality, they punish responsible pet owners and good Samaritans. Limit laws are arbitrary, nearly impossible to enforce, wildly expensive to taxpayers, and most upsetting – they cost animals their lives.
Foster homes are in critically short supply and HB1166 could wipe them out entirely. Without foster homes to care for young, sick, or hard to place pets, more animals will be killed at shelters and taxpayers will foot the bill.
Caregivers and rescue groups may be forced to stop caring for community cats because to do so may violate the pet limit law, resulting in needy animals being denied care, and again leading to increased killing at taxpayer expense. By contrast, the maintenance of multi-pet households or the feeding of homeless cats-including sterilization, food, and veterinary care, is uniformly accomplished by private citizens at no cost to local government or taxpayers. And pet owners targeted for enforcement may be forced to surrender their well cared-for animals to already over-burdened local shelters where they too are at risk for euthanasia and again, taxpayers will have to pay the bill.
Illinois already has some of the best animal welfare legislation in the nation. Ample tools are already available to law enforcement agencies to handle complaints such as noise, unsanitary, or abusive conditions. There is simply no need for HB1166. It will not help animals – it will be their death sentence. It will not resolve neighborhood complaints or mental illness – it will punish you, the responsible pet guardian and volunteer. And you, the taxpayer, will pay for it all.
We must protest HB1166. We are asking each and every one of you to both call and email Rep. Verschoore to tell him that we don’t want this in our animal welfare act, that caring for 7 animals does not make us hoarders, that we will not tolerate a statewide pet limit law and stand idly by while Illinois cats and dogs are killed as a result of foolish legislation.
Email Rep. Verschoore at firstname.lastname@example.org
Call Rep. Vershoore at (309) 558-3612
Full text of HB1166 available by clicking this link.
Below is the email IVCT sent today, feel free to use it as a rough template.
Remember to also call. All you need to tell the secretary is that you are an IL resident and you are grossly opposed to HB1166 and want it removed.
Speak up for those with no voice. They’re depending on us.