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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 29 Oct 2009 Issue

More Humane Legislation Becomes Law In Illinois


Tail wags, purrs and children’s smiles were all the rage in the “Land of Lincoln” when Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn today signed new legislation into law that helps identify and expose animal abuse. It also affirms the link between animal abuse and child abuse by requiring investigating animal welfare and child welfare agencies to report suspected abuse incidences to each other.

Jointly spearheaded by Best Friends Animal Society and the Cook County Sheriff’s Department and sponsored by State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and State Representative Susana Mendoza (D-Chicago), Illinois HB 562 was officially signed today in a special ceremony.

“For many years, research has documented the connection between violence to animals and violence to children,” said Ledy VanKavage, legislative analyst for Best Friends Animal Society. “We are grateful to Sen. Harmon, Rep. Mendoza, and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart for their hard work on this bill, and, of course, to Gov. Quinn for signing the bill today.”

The new law amends the Humane Care for Animals Act, as well as the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, by requiring animal welfare investigators, who have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child is being neglected, abused, or in any such danger, to make a written or oral report to the State Department of Children and Family Services.

Likewise, investigators employed by the Department of Children and Family Services must immediately report suspected animal abuse or neglect to the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare.

The measure also provides for immunity from liability for persons, institutions, and agencies participating in good faith in the reporting or investigation of animal abuse or neglect. It also provides for the confidentiality of the identity of persons reporting such animal abuse or neglect.

Cynthia Bathurst, Best Friends Safe Humane director, hailed the law as a triumph for safe humane communities. “The cross reporting requirement will surely help law enforcement uncover suspected abuse and result in safer, more humane communities in Cook County, the city of Chicago, and throughout the state of Illinois,” she said.

Bathurst was not the only Safe Humane representative, as the ceremony was also attended by Rou, a 3-year-old red and white pit bull, who serves as a certified therapy dog with the Canine Therapy Corps; Boomer, a 4-year-old Labrador retriever; and Scoobie a 2 ½-year-old Yorkshire terrier, rescue dogs who work with Safe Humane youth leaders and their programs.

“We are pleased that this law has been passed,” noted Gregory Castle, interim chief executive officer for Best Friends Animal Society, “so that animal abuse and child abuse, which are so closely and unfortunately linked in our society, can be identified in the early stages to save lives.”

For more information about the link between violence against children and animals, and how to help prevent it, see the No More Homeless Pets forum, http://www.bestfriends.org/archives/forums/020705abuse.html

For more information about Safe Humane Chicago, click here.

Photos by Sheri Berliner, www.petraits.com .


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