Sen. Karina Villa

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Karina Villa advanced legislation from the Senate on Thursday to expand protections for service and companion animal in Illinois.

“This legislation is necessary to ensure companion and working animals will have protections in place if need be,” Villa said (D-West Chicago). “Animal cruelty is a harsh reality that happens far too often. Adding these additional safeguards will protect animals across the state.”

Senate Bill 1499, which makes changes to the Humane Care for Animals Act, allows a law enforcement officer to legally take possession of the companion animal of someone arrested who strikes, harms, injures, tampers with or kills police animals, service dogs, detection dogs or search and rescue dogs; poisons animals; or confines animals in a motor vehicle for a dangerous amount of time. Current law allows law enforcement to take possession of an animal only when making an arrest involving cruel treatment, aggravated cruelty, animal torture or animal entertainment.

Under the legislation, an officer may take possession of the companion animal from the individual upon arrest. A person who violates an order to hand over their companion animal would be subject to civil and criminal contempt, with a fine up to $2,500 and imprisonment for up to 90 days. It would be up to the prosecution to prove the person arrested violated the Humane Care for Animals Act, and an individual who violates this Act may not possess another animal for a period of time determined by the court, which could include permanent relinquishment.

“Those who abuse animals do not deserve to own animals themselves,” said Villa. “The goal of this legislation is to protect animals from those who would do them harm.”

Senate Bill 1499 passed the Senate on Thursday and now heads to the House.