Illinois governor signs controversial dangerous dog bill

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On Aug. 19, Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed into law a bill that toughens the penalties on owners of dangerous dogs, boosts dog and cat registration requirements, and gives counties the authority to require microchips for all dogs and cats.

The law is a revision to the Illinois animal control act and became effective immediately. It permits county boards to pass ordinances to require that pet dogs and cats be microchipped to help identify animals that injure or kill someone and to increase the chances that lost pets can be returned to their owners. It also requires counties to impose registration fees on individual cats and dogs and on litters.

It also states that dogs found to be dangerous must be muzzled and leashed when they are in public and requires that vicious dogs impounded under the law be spayed or neutered within 30 days. The law also establishes liability for a an owner whose dog causes injury without provocation.

"Too often, we hear about tragedies involving dangerous dogs," Blagojevich said in a statement. "With this legislation, we are taking a stand to protect those innocent victims and hold the owners responsible for (the care and supervision of their dogs)."

Some cat and dog breed organizations opposed the law because they said the registration and microchipping requirements were an unfair burden on responsible owners. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which lobbied for the bill, applauded the passage of the law.

For more information on this law, read the Aug. 1 issue of JAVMA News, page 294, or view the article online at