Illinois Governor Signs Two Important Pet-Friendly Bills


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Illinois is leading the nation among most humane states – with two important bills signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Following Nevada’s lead, Illinois Governor Pritzker has now signed a bill (house bill 1672) which prohibits insurance companies For two years the insurance companies must collect data to determine if breed and dog bites are related to breed for homeowners insurance.

Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative analyst at Best Friends was behind this Illinois initiative, and notes there’s no insurance company data to defend the insurance company position regarding presumed inherently dangerous breeds. She says that she hopes other states will now follow.

Two companies are smart enough to have no issue with any breed or mix and do not discriminate, State Farm and Farmers Insurance.

Affordable Housing and Pets

The Governor also signed an affordable housing and pets bill (house bill 0154).

This bill amends the Housing Authorities Act. In provisions concerning the duties of a Housing Authority concerning rentals and tenant selection, provides that a Housing Authority shall not restrict any tenant from owning or maintaining one or more common household pets regardless of breed as long is the dog is under 50 lbs. In other words if you live in an apartment or any building which receives any state government assistance whatsoever – pets are now welcome and breed discrimination is not allowed. The sole exceptions are dogs over 50 lbs. which may or may not be allowed and any more than two cats.

Both bills were led by Illinois State Senator Linda Holmes (42nd District), who I spoke with here on WGN Radio.

This bill is particularly important at this time, as the pandemic puppy returns are not what the media is greatly describing, people tiring of their newfound friends as they are returning to their offices. Instead, the shelters are experiencing increases among dogs primarily due to housing issues.

I testified in support of this bill in May and here is what I said:

“My name is Steve Dale, I am a certified animal behavior consultant, author books about pets and travel around the world speaking at veterinary and animal welfare conferences about behavior.  I also serve on several Boards, including the Human Animal Bond Association.

Illinois is the first state to provide for protection for pets against kennel and dog day care fires, and that was my idea….and I testify frequently. But am not an extremist. My comments are always based on data.

Today, the human animal bond is more intense than ever before. No one forces people to have pets in their lives – still even before the pandemic pet adoption surge, pet ownership was at an all-time high. There are more pets than children in the U.S. 

It’s a choice so many make because pets make people feel good, and we benefit from companionship.  No matter who we are – no matter how much wealth we have or not, our pets don’t care.

Specifically, today, there are countless studies which demonstrate the value of pets, and that they are beneficial to our mental and physical well-being.

For millions of seniors, pets are their reason for being – for getting up in the morning. And taking care of another life. This we know brings a new lease on life and diminishes loneliness, which  is associated with illness and even increased likelihood of imminent death among seniors.

According to the Veterans Administration and other sources, soldiers with PTSD are far more likely to commit suicide. Suicide rates are off the charts for soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, with about 40 attempts daily, and around half that number succeed at ending their own lives. The one exception are soldiers with service dogs – those suicide rates are now about the same as the general population.

Of course, veterans and seniors are a significant population in public housing. 

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic and elsewhere even use a prescription pad for certain cardiac and psychiatric patients to get a dog – and it’s true people who live with a pet overall have lower blood pressure.

This is true for all dogs – size and breed are irrelevant to the positive impact of sharing your life with a dog. And – overall – large dogs tend to be couch potatoes, requiring less exercise than their smaller counterparts, and they quieter than often dare I say yappier small dogs.  And any weight limit is random, 30 lbs. 20 lbs. There is no magic number anyway.

No one wants irresponsible dog owners – but a dog’s size has nothing to do with it –  people can be as irresponsible with a small dog or a larger one, which is where the lease comes in….whether it’s not picking up after your dog or spilling a soft drink in a common area – tenants need to be responsible, and that’s in the lease.

Over 90 percent of pet parents identify their dogs or cats as family members.  And that number may even be higher for those who depend on their dogs as seniors do or as our veterans.

It’s downright cruel to break these bonds based on something so arbitrary as a dog’s size. And it’s costly to communities when animals are given up to shelters – which happens FAR too  – A LOT – because of landlord restrictions – they may be euthanized, and actually there’s a financial cost to that.

That’s true. But what is most true is to do the right thing.”