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February 24, 2010

Illinois Citizens Lobby for Animal Protection Laws

Citizens from across Illinois will assemble on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers to urge them to protect animals as part of Humane Lobby Day. The event is organized by The Humane Society of the United States to connect citizen lobbyists with lawmakers to support and encourage animal welfare legislation. The HSUS will also present a Humane Legislator Award to State Rep. John Fritchey, D-11, who worked tirelessly to pass a bill to end the use of gas chambers at animal shelters in Illinois.

Participants will encourage lawmakers to pass legislation to protect Illinois's animals. Citizen lobbyists will urge the introduction of legislation to regulate dog tethering, require that an animal's history be disclosed to consumers for any dog or cat for sale at a pet store, prohibit primates as pets and require a bittering agent be added to antifreeze to prevent animal poisoning.

"This is basic legislation for the welfare of our state's animals," said Jordan Matyas, The HSUS' Illinois state director. "Humane Lobby Day is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to speak out on behalf of the animals, and a great way to develop relationships with elected officials. Our members are excited to be engaged in the process and believe that animal protection is part of good government. "

Dog Tethering

Dogs are naturally social beings and when kept continually chained outdoors, they become neurotic, anxious and often very aggressive. Many chained dogs suffer throat/trachea damage due to the constant pressure from lunging and pulling, and sometimes collars can become embedded in their necks.

Tethered dogs with no escape face a variety of dangers in addition to the neglect they suffer. They often fall prey to humans or other animals and contribute to pet overpopulation problems because they are often unsterilized and are vulnerable to unwanted breeding.

Tethered dogs also have ties to dogfighting. Dogfighters house dogs by chaining, which also trains them for fighting by increasing aggression and building upper body strength from the chain's heavy weight. Proposed legislation (S.B. 2580) will ensure that dogs are treated humanely by banning chaining methods such as heavy tow and log chains.

Pet Stores and Puppy Mills

S.B. 3594 and H.B. 5772 will address pet stores that do not disclose the origin of their puppies or kittens. Consumers have a right to know where a dog was bred and any past medical issues in order to make an informed decision. Many pet store puppies come from inhumane puppy mills, which often breed and sell puppies who suffer from health and behavior issues. Consumers often unknowingly support the cruel puppy mill industry by purchasing puppies and kittens at pet stores, and too frequently learn after the sale that the animal they have acquired is sick or suffers from congenital defects.

Primates as Pets

Primates are wild animals, and keeping them as pets threatens public health and safety as well as the animal's welfare. Primates can attack and spread disease, and the average pet owner cannot provide the specialized care they need in captivity.

As infants, primates may seem cute and cooperative, but when they grow too aggressive and difficult to handle there are few options. These social, intelligent animals may spend their lives confined to small cages, isolated from others of their kind. Twenty-one states currently prohibit keeping primates as pets, and Illinois should join them by passing H.B. 4801.

Antifreeze Dangers

Antifreeze is extremely sweet-tasting, and it is estimated that as many as 90,000 dogs and cats are poisoned by antifreeze ingestion each year. In addition, many kids are made ill by antifreeze. The proposed bill (H.B. 4722) will require that a bittering agent be added to antifreeze sold in Illinois, thus protecting children, pets and wildlife.

Last year, state legislatures across the country passed 121 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators across the country to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more.

Find out more about Illinois' Humane Lobby Day.

Click on the following to learn more about why primates should not be pets, puppy mills, or chaining and tethering dogs.

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Follow The Humane Society of the United States on Twitter.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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