Illinois law allows law enforcement to take custody of mistreated pets
Local law enforcement will can take temporary custody of pets left in life-threatening weather conditions.
An Illinois state law allows local law enforcement officers to take temporary custody of a cat or dog they believe to be in a life-threatening situation due to “extreme heat or cold conditions.”
Public Act 100-0740, an amendment to Illinois’ Humane Care for Animals Act, enables law enforcement to proactively address cruel treatment of pets. The act defines extreme heat or cold conditions as those that may result in injury or death, or other serious conditions like hypothermia, frostbite and hyperthermia. The law took effect in January 2019.
Conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite can pose a risk to pets left in cars during cold winter months, while hyperthermia – overheating caused by hot and humid weather – may be of concern during summer. In Illinois, there is already a prohibition on confining pets to vehicles for prolonged periods of time – a potentially deadly but preventable occurrence during extreme temperatures.
The act also requires that law enforcement officers taking temporary custody of a cat or dog seek emergency veterinary care as soon as possible. The owner of the pet will be held responsible for any costs associated with providing care.
Hundreds of pets left in parked automobiles die each year from heat exhaustion, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates.
Anti-cruelty laws and ordinances across the nation aim to protect pets during severe weather conditions. Most recently, states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey moved to impose harsher penalties on endangering animals during severe weather.
The National Weather Service reminds pet owners to not leave pets in cars, and to limit their time outdoors during harsh winter and summer weather.