Animal Welfare

Dignity is at the core of my campaign for Attorney General.  The way our society treats animals reflects on our compassion and treatment of all who are in need.  I want Illinois to be a national model for smart, compassionate and comprehensive animal welfare policies.  I’ll be an advocate for the ethical treatment of all animals—our pets, our livestock, stray animals, service animals, and animals bred and adopted throughout Illinois.  As Attorney General, I would work to protect the welfare of animals, who bring joy and comfort to our communities, yet remain vulnerable to the evils we confront as a society—mistreatment, violence, fraud, and deceit.

Fortunately, there are many organizations working to improve animal welfare in Illinois.  As Attorney General, I would organize leaders from humane not-for-profit organizations, chambers of commerce, and state legislators to implement forward-thinking policies that ensure humane treatment for animals and strengthen protections from bad actors.  I would direct this group to issue a set of recommendations addressing critical animal welfare issues, including consideration of the following:

  1. How to improve Illinois statutes addressing animal welfare, including the Humane Care for Animals Act, the Humane Slaughter of Livestock Act, and the Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Practices Act of 1994;
  2. How best to manage over-population issues, including public education regarding humane and effective practices;
  3. What additional laws or strategies should be implemented to ensure compassionate treatment of stray animals;
  4. What additional laws or strategies we need to combat mistreatment and abuse of animals;
  5. How we can best address the scourge of puppy mills in Illinois;
  6. How we can better protect the rights of humane animal shelters and responsible pet breeders; and
  7. How we can identify and root out those that seek to profit illegally from the abusive and irresponsible breeding and sale of animals.

Today, animals and adopting families are too easily subject to harm from deceitful commercial practices.  The Illinois Department of Agriculture is not fully enforcing consumer protection laws relating to the sale of animals, and I will fill the void left by their failure to enforce laws meant to ensure that animals and adopting families are treated fairly.

In Illinois, we have a “Puppy Lemon Law” intended to protect animals and adoptive families, but many pet stores actively hide the true nature of an animal’s health and well-being.  For example, pet stores and certain veterinarians engage in a practice to avoid the Illinois “Puppy Lemon Law” by contractually permitting the use of only a preferred veterinarian who often misdiagnoses or omits serious health issues.  The store or shelter then declares any legally-required warranty void if another veterinarian diagnoses a serious health problem.  This sort of bad faith tactic harms animals and should not be permitted by Illinois.  I will make it a priority to expand and enhance Illinois’ “Puppy Lemon Law” to stop these practices and give adopting families the right to be fully and fairly informed by a veterinarian of their choice.  On day one, I will establish a consumer hotline for Illinois residents to report pet stores and animal shelters who intentionally hide information regarding an animal’s health and well-being from adoptive families or who require pet owners to see their preferred veterinarian.  I will work to shine a light on this shameful behavior and give Illinois better tools to protect animals and their adoptive families.

I also will encourage better transparency around our treatment of animals in Illinois, improving transparency into activities at animal shelters such as euthanization rates.  We should strive for transparency, compassion, and dignity.  We should be proud of how we treat animals in Illinois, and as Attorney General, I will be a champion for the fair and compassionate treatment of animals throughout the state.