Governor Quinn signs measure to help reunite lost pets.

Governor Quinn Signs Measure to Help Return Lost Pets to Their Families
New Law Requires Illinois Shelters to Take Additional Steps to Locate Owners of Lost Pets

CHICAGO – August 3, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that strengthens the rights of pet owners throughout Illinois and helps reunite lost animals with their owners. Senate Bill 1637, sponsored by Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) and Rep. David Reis (R-Olney), requires animal control centers to scan for implanted microchips twice and make other efforts to identify a lost animal’s owner within 24 hours of the animal being impounded.

“For people throughout Illinois, pets are family members and their loss is grieved like that of a loved one,” Governor Quinn said. “This legislation will ensure animal facilities throughout the state make every effort to return pets to their rightful owners and reduce the number of shelter animals that are needlessly euthanized each year.”

Under the new law, facilities must scan for an implanted microchip within 24 hours of the animal’s arrival. A second scan must occur before the animal can be adopted, transferred to another facility or euthanized. Animal care personnel will scan for an implanted microchip that contains owner contact information as well as a physical check of the animal for collar tags, rabies tags, tattoos and other potential forms of identification.

Senate Bill 1637 also ensures that animal control and shelter personnel contact any agent or caretaker of an animal, such as its veterinarian, by phone or email if that information can be found. Current law only requires written notification contact of an animal’s owner. If successful contact is made, the new law allows an agent or caretaker to reclaim the animal by paying any fees charged by the agency or shelter.

“The governor should be commended for his pet advocacy,” Department of Agriculture Director Tom Jennings said. “This legislation strengthens animal welfare laws that the Animal Legal Defense Fund already rated as the most comprehensive in the nation.”

The new law passed the General Assembly unanimously and takes effect Jan. 1.

Today’s action is the latest in a number of steps Governor Quinn has taken to protect Illinois’ pets. Last year, the Governor signed legislation that requires the addition of a bitter flavoring agent to automotive antifreeze and coolant to prevent animal poisoning. Both products possess a sweet taste and can pose a hazard to pets, children and wildlife when spilled or left in open containers. The Governor bill has also signed legislation to further deter individuals from participating in dog fighting by increasing criminal penalties for dog fighting-related offenses.