Senate Bill 648 in Illinois has been tabled for now, but if ever passed this bill could be disastrous for shelter pets. Animal welfare advocates are keeping an eye on it and gathering support now to take action.
The bill basically says that any strays coming into animal shelters need to be transferred to government facilities, such as the city or the county pound. Many of these facilities are already overpopulated and some don't have adoption programs at all. The bill would also only allow release of any animals to not-for-profit organizations from out-of-state.
Certain animals would be more in danger than others. Feral cats, for example, would probably never see the light of day again after entering government facilities. Currently, 'Trap-Neuter-Return' programs have been successful in capturing stray cats, spaying or neutering them, then releasing them. These cats have been proven beneficial in keeping the rodent population under control in cities, and by releasing them they don't put a strain on animal shelter space and resources. Under the new program, all cats would have to be turned over to government facilities.
As for dogs, the bill would be detrimental to pit bulls, as they account for half of all stray dogs in Illinois shelters. With the bad reputation they’ve gained through irresponsible media coverage, most of them would be euthanized.
The financial strain this would put on government facilities would be significant to the taxpayers. Many animal advocates are crying out that this bill has been poorly thought out and should be reconsidered. State Representative Sara Feigenholtz, a long-time supporter of animal causes, took action and sought support to help get the bill tabled.
Animal rights activists warn people that it's not over— like a bad penny, this bill will turn up again.
Photo: Chicago Now
If Senate Bill 648 does pass it would make caring for animals, especially those in shelters, very difficult.