Legislation Kills No Kill Goals, Barrs Shelters Saving Strays?

by Mary Haight on May 15, 2014

legislation kills no-kill

In an animal community shocker, an ill-conceived, poorly advised piece of legislation, SB 0648, quietly slipped to the floor of the Illinois Senate for a vote. Legislation that kills no kill goals, unravels at least a decade of work the animal welfare community has put into saving adoptable animals, and bans shelters from saving strays is preposterous. Yet it passed unanimously in the Senate 54-0, and is moving through committee in the House, according to the Illinois General Assembly site.

Legislation Kills No Kill Goals How?

The changes to the Animal Welfare Act proposed in this bill erases everything that comes after the enactment clause. Quoting the first main point of contention:

“Provides that an animal control facility may not release any animal to an individual representing an animal shelter, unless the individual is a representative of a not-for-profit, out-of-State organization and the animal is being transferred out of the State of Illinois. “

As far as I know, no one in the animal community, represented by Chicago Animal Shelter Alliance (CASA), had been asked for their expert opinion or advice. No (known) calls or emails were received by the Board from the Bill’s co-sponsors Andy Manar, (D) Senator and Wayne Rosenthal, (R) Representative to see how this Bill might impact the life-saving work accomplished every day by the City’s many shelters and rescues. The wording here is astonishing, since it now makes it other States burden to come and save Illinois animals?

The portion of the Animal Welfare Act this references presently looks like this:

 (225 ILCS 605/3.4)
7     Sec. 3.4. Release of animals to shelters.
8     (a) An animal shelter or animal control facility may not
9 release any animal to an individual representing an animal
10 shelter, unless (1) the recipient animal shelter has been
11 licensed or has a foster care permit issued by the Department
12 or (2) the individual is a representative of a not-for-profit,
13 out-of-State organization and the animal is being transferred
14 out of the State of Illinois.

 

The amendment referenced in bold type above changes, well, everything. The shelter/rescue community pulls animals from the Animal Care & Control (ACC) facility every day, assisting in the decline of kills there. PAWS Chicago takes the majority of their animals for adoption from this facility.  On May 1, at the Third Reading, Senate Bill 0648 passed and was sent to the House. 54 Senators could not have been more wrong.

Who Benefits – Because Intentions Matter

Could this have been a simple mistake in transcription? Well, if that’s the case, what was the Bill designed to do in the first place? Who were the players behind the scenes? The animals will not benefit from it, so who would? This is a moving story. Having checked the Illinois General Assembly site again, I see the Bill that was in Committee in the House has now been Tabled. For now, it’s stopped in its tracks.

I hope to be back with a follow-up as to what actually happened here. I have a call in to Representative Rosenthal, a co-sponsor of the Bill who is currently on the floor and unavailable for questions. For now, we can breathe a sigh of relief.

However this particular story ends, there is a lesson here for all animal lovers and practiced advocates — essential matters can slip through the cracks. It’s important to keep an eye on local and State legislation so course corrections can be made before it’s too late. We know Big Ag, the NRA, and commercial puppy millers all lobby to write legislation to their benefit and have proven time again they are not concerned with animal welfare. Legislation that kills no kill goals would likely be cause for a happy dance in that group.

I’ll be back with any response or news I get, but I leave you with this question. What would have happened if this Bill had passed?

12 comments
HeartLikeADog
HeartLikeADog

We have an Animal rights group in our state that works with some of our state reps and they keep a close eye on bills that are proposed regarding animal welfare.  It is called Connecticut Votes for Animals and they have an e-mail list and keep people aware of what is going on.  When something negative comes up (such as one town trying to enact BSL) they get petitions going and send e-mails out with contact information for citizens to voice their concerns.


I'm glad this particular bill is tabled, and I hope someone can keep it from coming up.  How in the world are we to make progress with backwoods laws like this?

pgfflinda
pgfflinda

@HeartLikeADog I am curious how long your VFA there has been in action?  The one here is very new (relatively speaking).  I wonder whether some of the pitfalls of how to build concensus and avoid power-plays, get ironed out, with time.  Our VFA is a PAC.  IF you make a donation, apparently, you are then invited to attend meetings, but otherwise, I don't think that any of the working rescue groups hereabouts, even know about the meetings.  But the government agencies (the public shelters) definitely DO.  That seems dangerous and unbalanced, to me -- of course, I am a proponent of community programs rather than a shelter employee so I admit to my OWN bias!


What can be done to ensure that the bills that a VFA thinks are good, are ALSO ones that are good and healthy for the groups (like, in this situation, the Illinois rescues) at work on the non-legislative aspects of animal welfare?  I think this sounds terrific, but worry that it kind of disempowers people who may have learned a lot about working in the local community.


MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@HeartLikeADog Your state's group sounds like a good avenue for keeping people informed in a timely way on animal welfare legislation and local ordinances. Thanks for sharing that!

I was glad it was Tabled yet still want the back-story of why these particular changes were made. What was the catalyst, and, really, how was it ever passed unanimously in the Senate as written. It's one big red flag. Ally Cat Allies offered that the Bill will be rewritten over the Summer. Keeping eyes open =) Thanks for stopping by!

pgfflinda
pgfflinda

Similar hijinks are going on in the Maryland legislature I'm afraid.  Good intentions probably boosted by a Connecticut writer that thinks ALL we need is to pass more laws about animals, effectively paved the way for any opponent of any animal welfare program to have their say.  Lip service was given to including some organized animal groups but the real deal was done in private, likely, several years ago.  In order to win bragging rights for one national group, it seems that all of the states need to be brought into line.  It is deeply troubling, or should be, not ONLY to people who want to see animals protected from harm, but to anyone concerned about civil rights, or government effectiveness, or transparency.  Looking forward to an update and hoping it offers Illinois voters a chance to have a genuine say!


pgfflinda
pgfflinda

@MaryEHaight @pgfflindaI am sorry to say that there was in fact some degree of complicity by one, at least, of the major players in animal welfare.  It has been, definitely, a lesson.  The animal control association in our state keeps a very close eye on its own interests -- preserving the status quo in "shelters."  In general those interests are in common with HSUS.  A small group  (about 3) citizens approached one of the legislative power brokers, years ago, and decided they knew what the state needed most.  At first, in order to make a show of support, it was a very big tent.  A LOT of rescue leaders around the state liked the concept.  But as that concept developed (devolved?) in "open meetings" that somehow were very difficult to find out about and even harder to attend, the animal control agencies and the status quo won the day.  The law was IMNSHO so compromised that it basically unleashes animal control at the discretion of (again) one or two longtime animal control chiefs.  It fails to provide adequate relief to low-income residents, and threatens (again, in spite of promises of good intentions) to do dire harm to cats in particular, and to cat welfare programs.  Finally, when one of the big national organizations (other than HSUS) *DID* attempt to intervene and sound alarms, well, legislators who had received cash gifts from HSUS over the years were quite upset.  (Why don't you love me, I'm doing just what they told me you wanted?!?!?!)  People do not appreciate how large the HSUS is now, and how much of a bureaucracy it is.  While there are many good people working in any large organization, there can also be a lot of busy-work that betrays their hard work.  The experts WITHIN HSUS in this case were not included in the discussions, either!


MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@pgfflinda I thank you for your example of good intentions gone horribly wrong. I hear your point of institutionalization that has occurred at HSUS. It is simply too big to make quick course corrections anymore.

I know there were people who worked in HSUS that did not appreciate the false advertising tactics used regarding Fay, where zero credit was given to the organization actually caring for a paying for all the surgeries she needed, even as HSUS used Fay to plead for donations. I fail to understand how the guy in charge of that department was not fired to have designed such egregious, flagrant fraud on the public. That in itself is telling and has never been rectified - yes, they gave $5000 to go to care for Fay but I read it cost much more than that, and oh, how about a public apology. Organizations much like individuals, are not right all the time. Apologizing is not a sign a weakness. I was so disappointed that this was what I took to be a struggle for them.

We'll see what happens tomorrow or what news I can share. Thanks again for your thoughtful responses, Linda!


MelF
MelF

@pgfflinda @MaryEHaight  That is truly frustrating and disturbing. I suspect all states should be on alert if HSUS is failing in their duties due to size and red tape. 


MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@pgfflinda Great response! I'm hoping more see this and comment about their own State. I am shocked and amazed how little it can take to push something as heinous as this through the process and how quietly. Where were the warning bells usually heard from HSUS et al? Did you have that same experience? I am concerned about the implications of what you relate happened in Maryland. NO big three warning? I suggest shelters rescues and advocates get a conference going, once a year online and once a year in a physical location. Anybody out there working on something like this =)

I take your point regarding transparency and government efficacy seriously. Experts in the field need to be consulted before Bills are passed that have far-reaching implications, as this does, and a laundry list of unintended consequences. Thanks so much for your response...and from your lips to the powers that be, by the way!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@MelF @pgfflinda and since ASPCA also has lobbyists in States, why no word from them to the community? It is frustrating, Mel and thanks for speaking up.

Sheltie Times
Sheltie Times

It's also a lesson that its important to know your state legislator and make it clear that you vote.  This bill seems a bit strange.  I fail to understand why they would care if other shelters are taking on these dogs and rehoming them.  Why only allow them to go out of state unless there is some kind of contract that means these dogs aren't going to shelters.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Sheltie Times It was a very odd read...how could anyone pass such a thing? Even if you don't care at all about animals, as a legislator would you not be cognizant of the incredible cost and human resources burden this puts on ACC? Really strange,but it will be interesting to get further information. Thanks for stopping by =)


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  1. […] several blog posts (by colleagues ChicagoNow.com's Kathy Mordini of Raining Cats & Dogs andDancing Dog Blogger Mary Haight) and a public outcry, I met by phone privately with Rosenthal, who agreed to table the […]

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