Posted on 04/18/2010


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Dear Illinois Dog Owners, Dog Club members, Dog Show Fanciers, Trialing Fanciers, and Dog Breeders:

Illinois SB2580, the Tethering Bill, will be discussed by the Illinois House Agriculture and Conservation Committee on Tuesday April 20, 2010, at 2:00PM in Capitol Building Room 122B Springfield, IL . This bill has already passed the Senate; it is important that we stop it in the House, and this Committee might be the best way to do this.

This bill has serious adverse implications for every dog owner in Illinois. I am asking you to please call or fax each of them on the committee by Monday afternoon April 19 and tell them to vote “NO” on SB2580. (Not all of them have readily available email addresses, but in any case, telephone calls and/or faxes are better than emails and carry more impact. Their contact info is at the end of this letter)

BELOW, I have tried to explain the reasons why they should be voting NO.

You can read the full bill here at this link – Amendment 1 and Amendment 2:

A list of reasons why SB2580 should be opposed by all Illinois dog owners:

1. The essential portions of this tethering bill, written to supposedly protect animals, are ALREADY included under the PRESENT Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act (HCAA); if an animal is harmed, endangered, or even significantly discomforted through tethering, HCAA already covers these offenses. As we all know duplicate laws are a waste of taxpayer dollars in enforcement costs, especially in cases such as this where the original law (HCAA) was very clear, but the duplicate (SB 2580) is very obscure.

2. It will be too easy for a well-intentioned, responsible pet owner to violate this bill (if it becomes law) as currently written, and unknowingly violate it at that, which makes pet ownership even more difficult than it already is. Those of us involved in legislation would be aware of the new law and its provisions, but the average dog owner will not be.

While it is very possible that a dog owner so charged with trivial tethering violations would be able to obtain an attorney and successfully defend themselves in court, the question really is: should that possibility of being so charged under a tethering law be a burden placed on Illinois dog owners who otherwise take good care of their dogs?

3. According to this bill, the second offense is Class 4 felony conviction, which is extremely harsh considering that first and second violations could occur (and often will occur) which in no way harms or causes discomfort to the animal, nor endangers public safety, nor creates a public nuisance! This sets an extremely dangerous precedent for Illinois dog owners, in that a second offense under a law such as this could land them in jail, yet , I stress, the dog was completely unharmed as a result of the violation.

4. Undoubtedly, animals that currently have adequate homes (meaning, no violations of HCAA, and the dog is given adequate food, shelter, water, and veterinary care) will be seized or given up to shelters if this bill passes, especially should their owners be charged a second time (where the felony offense provision kicks in). This bill will KILL dogs if it gets passed, including dogs who previously had adequate and even good homes – – and to me, this very reason alone IS REASON ENOUGH TO OPPOSE THE BILL.

5. The square footage requirement in this bill for a 10 ft tether can be all too easily merged in the future with a larger square footage requirement for a “primary enclosure”. Note that a 10 ft tether provides a dog with approximately 314 sq feet, a larger area than most people’s living rooms as well as larger than standard indoor-outdoor kennel runs combinations! This tethering-minimal square footage link already happened in Connecticut , where a 100 square foot primary enclosure would be required for all dogs, with a 50 foot additional requirement for each dog added, with this wording combined with tethering restrictions:

AKC’s opposition to the Connecticut bill specifically refers to space requirements it contains:

6. There would be significant permanent legal/psychological effects on juvenile offenders, who will be ordered to undergo psychological counseling and “treatment” upon conviction, even for a first offense, and again, EVEN WHEN THE DOG IS NOT HARMED IN ANY WAY.

7. ANY conviction under a cruelty statute by a person (or even his/her immediate family living with them) who has an animal-related license issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, such as breeder, kennel, or pet store, would easily lead to revocation of this license, EVEN IF THE CONVICTION, SUCH AS UNDER THIS TETHERING LAW, did NOT harm the animal or have any effect on other animals under that license holder’s care. This is taken directly from the present Illinois Animal Welfare Act, (225 ILCS 605/10), from Ch. 8, par. 310:

Sec. 10. Grounds for discipline. The Department may refuse to issue or renew or may suspend or revoke a license on any one or more of the following grounds:
f. Conviction of a violation of any law of Illinois except minor violations such as traffic violations and violations not related to the disposition of dogs, cats and other animals or any rule or regulation of the Department relating to dogs or cats and sale thereof;
j. Proof that the licensee is guilty of gross negligence, incompetency, or cruelty with regard to animals.

Therefore any trivial instance of tethering by any family member of the licensee, such as by a juvenile, could lead to this loss of licensing.

8. When local communities revisit and update their own animal codes, it is required that their laws be at least as strict as state laws. Even if the tethering bill did have reasonable language (which it does not), it should be expected that now including tethering under state law will certainly lead to a additional restrictions or even outright prohibition of tethering in local jurisdictions, i.e.: your home town!

9. Illinois was the FIRST state in the country to legally define “Companion Animal Hoarder” under state law (2001) – see full definition in the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act (510 ILCS 70/2.10). Unfortunately, the Illinois definition is very loose as to number of animals and conditions which specify an animal hoarder (those of us involved in pet legislation recently saw an out-of-state case where an individual owning only 13 dogs was declared an “animal hoarder”), and could sweep up anyone with more than a very few animals, even if the needs of these animals were adequately met. Since the tethering bill is to be an amendment to the HCAA, a provision for special treatment of a “companion animal hoarder” also had to be included for tethering violations, making this bill an especially dangerous one for ANYONE who owns MORE than a very small number of dogs.

10. Lastly, tethering is NOT currently defined or regulated under Illinois law. SO once defined and restricted, no matter how benign the law, additional restrictions or even an outright prohibition could be added as FUTURE amendments.

Below is a list of the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee Members contact information – All you have to do is call or fax each of them by Monday afternoon April 19 and tell them to vote “NO” on SB2580.

2010 House Agriculture and Conservation Committee Members

Representative Brandon W. Phelps (D)
118th District

Springfield Office:

275-S Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-5131

(217) 557-0521 FAX

District Office:

2 N. Vine, 5th Floor

Harrisburg, IL 62946

(618) 253-4189

(618) 253-3136 FAX

Saline County


Representative Patrick J. Verschoore (D)

72nd District

Springfield Office:

259-S Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-5970

(217) 558-1253 FAX

District Office:

County Office Bldg-1504 3rd, 2nd Floor

Rock Island, IL 61201

(309) 558-3612

(309) 793-4764 FAX

Rock Island County

Years served: 2003 – Present

Representative Jim Sacia (R)

89th District

Springfield Office:

210-N Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-8186

(217) 558-7016 FAX

District Office:

50 W. Douglas St.

Stewart Centre Suite 1001

Freeport, IL 61032

(815) 232-0774

(815) 232-0777 FAX

Winnebago County


Years served: 2003 – Present

Representative John D. Cavaletto (R)

107th District

Springfield Office:

228-N Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-0066

(217) 782-1336 FAX

District Office:

1370 W. Main Street , Suite A

P.O. Box 1264

Salem, IL 62881

(618) 548-9080

(618) 548-9087 FAX

Marion County

Years served: 2009 – Present

Representative Shane Cultra (R)

105th District

Springfield Office:

230-N Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 558-1039

(217) 558-3481 FAX

District Office:

104 West Lincoln Avenue

Onarga, IL 60955

(815) 268-4090

(815) 268-7245 FAX

Iroquois County

Years served: 2003 – Present

Representative Lisa M. Dugan (D)

79th District

Springfield Office:

242-W Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-5981

(217) 558-4553 FAX

District Office:

200 E. Court Street

Suite 710

Kankakee, IL 60901

(815) 939-1983

(815) 939-0081 FAX

Kankakee County

Years served: 2003 – Present

Representative Robert F. Flider (D)

101st District

Springfield Office:

253-S Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-8398

(217) 782-2528 FAX

District Office:

132 South Water

Suite 101

Decatur, IL 62523

(217) 428-2708

(217) 428-3419 FAX

Macon County

Years served: 2003 – Present

Representative Mary E. Flowers (D)

31st District

Springfield Office:

251-E Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-4207

(217) 782-1130 FAX

District Office:

2525 W. 79th Street

Chicago, IL 60652

(773) 471-5200

(773) 471-1036 FAX

Cook County


Representative Julie Hamos (D)

18th District

Springfield Office:

256-W Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-8052

(217) 557-7204 FAX

District Office:

820 Davis Street

Suite 103

Evanston, IL 60201

(847) 424-9898

(847) 424-9828 FAX

Cook County


Representative Donald L. Moffitt (R)

74th District

Springfield Office:

223-N Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-8032

(217) 557-0179 FAX

District Office:

# 5 Weinberg Arcade

Galesburg, IL 61401

(309) 343-8000

(309) 343-2683 FAX

Knox County


Years served: 1993 – Present

Representative Richard P. Myers (R)

94th District

Springfield Office:

200-7N Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-0416

(217) 782-5257 FAX

District Office:

331 N. Lafayette St.

Macomb, IL 61455

(309) 836-2707

(309) 836-2231 FAX

McDonough County

Years served: 1995 – Present

Representative David Reis (R)

108th District

Springfield Office:

200-2N Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-2087

(217) 557-0530 FAX

District Office:

219 E. Main

P.O. Box 189

Olney, IL 62450

(618) 392-0108

(618) 392-0107 FAX

Jasper County

Years served: 2005 – Present

Representative Dan Reitz (D)

116th District

Springfield Office:

200-9S Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-1018

(217) 782-0945 FAX

District Office:

128 A West Main

Sparta, IL 62286

(618) 443-5757

(618) 443-3800 FAX

Randolph County


Years served: 1997 – Present

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Posted in: Dog Law, HSUS