villa servicedogs 080823SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Karina Villa advocated for a new law that will expand protections for service and companion animals in Illinois.

“The goal of this law is to protect animals from those who would do them harm,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “This law will ensure companion and working animals will have protections in place if law enforcement come across someone who is mistreating them.”

The new law makes changes to the Humane Care for Animals Act, allowing a law enforcement officer to legally take possession of a companion animal from an individual under arrest 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.

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. “Animal cruelty is a harsh reality that happens far too often. Adding these additional safeguards will protect animals across the state.”

Senate Bill 1499 was signed into law on Friday, Aug. 4 and goes into effect immediately.