Animal Welfare in Illinois

Who oversees animal welfare in Illinois?
The Illinois Department of Agriculture Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare administers regulations concerning animal welfare. Bureau officials license and inspect animal-related businesses, including pet shops, breeding and boarding kennels, and shelters. Animal welfare officials also respond to complaints concerning humane care and treatment of animals, improper disposal of dead animals, and animals running at large.

What specific animal-related laws does the Department of Agriculture administer?
By conducting inspections, investigating complaints and requiring corrective action when appropriate, the Department administers the following Acts:

The Animal Welfare Act provides for inspection and licensure of facilities that produce or offer certain animals for sale or adoption. Inspections ensure compliance with sanitation and animal health requirements. Several types of facilities are regulated under this act, including pet shops, dog dealers, breeding and boarding kennels, catteries, animal control facilities, animal shelters, foster homes, and guard dog services.

Under provisions of the Animal Control Act, dogs 4 months of age and older must be maintained under current rabies vaccination status. The act also requires county governments to develop a county animal control program. Animal health and welfare staff works with county officials to develop and implement these programs.

The Humane Care for Animals Act requires that owners provide adequate food, water, shelter, and care for animals. This law also prohibits organized animal fighting. The Illinois Department of Agriculture responds to legitimate complaints from citizens regarding suspected mistreatment or neglect of animals.

The Dead Animal Disposal Act provides for the collection and disposal of bodies or parts of bodies of dead animals, poultry, or fish, as well as used cooking grease and oils. Any person caring for an animal, poultry, or fish is required to properly dispose of the carcass within 24 hours as prescribed by regulations pertaining to the Act. Provisions for composting are also contained in the rules for this Act.

The Domestic Animals Running at Large Act requires that animal owners maintain their animals on their own premises and not allow them to run at large.

The Feeding of Garbage to Animals Act prohibits the feeding of garbage to swine, other animals or poultry, and provides penalties for violations of the Act.

The Brand Act provides for the recording of livestock brands. Brands means an identification mark burned into the hide of a live animal by a hot iron.

The Horse Meat Act outlaws the processing of horse meat for human consumption in Illinois; however, zoos may use horse meat for exotic animals, and animal feed producers may include it in the production of exotic animal feed.

For more information about these laws, contact:

Illinois Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare
P.O. Box 19281
State Fairgrounds
Springfield, IL 62794-9281

TDD: 217-524-6858
FAX: 217-524-7702