Posted: February 18, 2011, 4:50 p.m. EST
PIJAC warns that if HB 1166 is made into law, people in Illinois with more than six pets will need to get a permit for the pets.
Legislators in Illinois have introduced a bill that, if approved, would prohibit residents from owning more than six companion animals without a permit. House Bill 1166 would create, by far, the most restrictive state law in the United States, in terms of regulating the number of pet animals a person may own, according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).
A public hearing on the measure is set for Tuesday, February 22, 2011.
As introduced, HB 1166 would require a person to obtain a permit if he or she wishes to have seven or more “companion animals.” A companion animal, as defined by the state, is an animal that is commonly considered to be, or is considered by the owner to be, a pet. Companion animals include, but are not limited to, canines, felines and equines.
Under the proposed bill, first-time offenders would be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Second-time or subsequent violators would be guilty of a Class 4 felony, with every day that a violation continues constituting a separate offense.
HB 1166 also seeks to change the definition of a companion animal hoarder to make it less vague. Currently, an animal hoarder is someone who possesses “a large number” of companion animals; fails to or is unable to provide what he or she is required to provide under the state’s Humane Care for Animals Act; keeps the companion animals in a severely overcrowded environment; and displays an inability to recognize or understand the nature of or has a reckless disregard for the conditions under which the companion animals are living and the deleterious impact they have on the companion animals’ and owner’s health and well-being.
HB 1166 would amend the law to define an animal hoarder as someone who possesses seven or more companion animals. The other criteria would remain unchanged.
PIJAC has issued an industry alert in which the Washington, D.C.-based organization said it supports responsible ownership of pets and enforcement of humane care standards but strongly opposes “arbitrary” limits on the number of pet animals a person may keep.
“So long as companion animal owners are responsibly caring for their pets, they should not be compelled to obtain a permit merely for keeping such pets,” PIJAC stated in the alert.
The House Committee on Agriculture and Conservation is scheduled to hear HB 1166 on February 22, 2011, at 2 p.m., in the state Capitol. PIJAC is urging the public to voice their opposition to the bill.
To view HB 1166 in its entirety, visit the Illinois General Assembly website.
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