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Animal Protection, Public Safety Measures Pass in Illinois

State lawmakers approve bills to require bittering agent in antifreeze and to ban primates as pets

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Humane Society of the United States,  with more than 460,000 supporters in the Prairie State, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, commend the Illinois General Assembly for passing two important animal protection and public safety measures as the legislative session nears its close. Lawmakers voted to prohibit the private ownership of primates as pets and to require the addition of a bitter flavor agent to antifreeze and engine coolant sold in the state, in order to prevent poisoning of children and animals.

H.B. 4722, sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, and Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, requires the addition of a bitter flavor agent to antifreeze and engine coolant to prevent poisoning. When inadvertently spilled or left in open containers, these sweet-tasting products can pose a hazard to children, pets and wildlife. This bill was also championed by the Consumer Specialty Products Association, and Honeywell International, manufacturer of Prestone®, one of the country's best-known brands of antifreeze.

H.B. 4801, introduced by Rep. Daniel Burke, D-Chicago, and Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, prohibits primates as pets by adding these animals to the state Dangerous Animal Act. Keeping primates as pets threatens public health and safety as well as animal welfare. Primates can inflict serious injuries, as demonstrated by last year's tragic chimpanzee attack in Connecticut, and spread life-threatening diseases. The average pet owner cannot meet their basic social and physical needs in captivity. Often acquired as infants, these animals can quickly grow too difficult to handle and may end up confined to small cages, isolated from others of their kind.

The bills now await Gov. Pat Quinn's signature.

"The Humane Society of the United States applauds the sponsors for their leadership in spearheading this legislation," said Jordan Matyas, Illinois state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "These bills attracted bipartisan support because they are common-sense measures to protect animal welfare and public safety."

Quotes from sponsors:

"The accidental ingestion of antifreeze is a serious concern for children and animals. Tens of thousands of pets across the country die each year as a result of antifreeze poisoning every year. Requiring this bittering agent in antifreeze sold in our state provides greater protection for our the children and pets of Illinois." – Sen. Holmes

"This legislation is significant as it presents an easily-implementable solution to the serious problem of antifreeze poisoning and will, as a result, protect Illinois' children, pets and wildlife."   – Rep. Feigenholtz 

 "As cute and cuddly as primates may seem, keeping them as pets is both dangerous and inhumane.  As the tragic attack in Connecticut showed us, this is common-sense legislation for the welfare of humans and animals." – Sen. Harmon

"It's inhumane to cage primates in private homes. Besides the animal cruelty concerns, keeping them as pets creates serious public health and safety risks. I thank my colleagues for supporting this legislation to protect people and these complex and intelligent animals." – Rep. Burke

Facts about antifreeze poisoning:

  • An estimated 90,000 animals are poisoned each year after ingesting ethylene glycol, the highly toxic substance used in auto antifreeze and coolant. The bill will require manufacturers to add bitter-tasting denatonium benzoate to antifreeze and coolant sold in the state.
  • With the governor's signature, Illinois will become the 12th state to require antifreeze contain a bittering agent. The other states where HSLF has worked to pass similar legislation are: Arizona, California, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont and Washington. Bills are pending in Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Facts about primates as pets:

  • About 21 states prohibit primates as pets.
  • The U.S. Congress is addressing this issue through the Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 80/S. 462) to prohibit interstate commerce of primates for the pet trade. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill, is a lead-sponsor of the bill.


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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

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues and to support humane candidates for office. On the Web at hslf.org.

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