By Lauren Malmberg, Peoria County Animal Protection Services
Many pet owners don’t realize that laws exist that govern our ownership
of companion and domestic animals. Regardless of where you live, animal
control and humane care for animal laws affect how you must care for
your pet and farm animals.
State laws cover many situations regarding animals; but local laws can
be stricter. It’s best to investigate what regulations exist in your own
area regarding animals — hopefully before obtaining a pet. It’s good to
keep a few regulations in mind that apply universally throughout the
state of Illinois.
Rabies Vaccination and Registration
In Illinois, all dogs 4 months of age or older must receive an annual
(or triennial) rabies vaccination. State law requires that rabies
vaccines must be administered by a licensed veterinarian. Upon
vaccination, you must obtain a county rabies tag and, in most counties,
pay a registration fee. Many Illinois counties also require that cats
over four months of age be currently vaccinated for rabies and
registered. Be sure to check with your county official to determine if
it’s required in your area.
If you’re moving or traveling out of state, be sure your rabies
vaccinations are up-to-date. All states require rabies vaccinations for
dogs and many require them for cats as well. Some states require health
certificates if crossing state lines — Illinois does. And, remember;
don’t put the rabies tag in a drawer — put it on your pet’s collar. A
dog or cat with a rabies tag can find its way home with a simple phone
call. And, pets wearing rabies tags receive veterinary care if found
If your pet — any kind of pet — bites a person, you’re required to
report that bite immediately to local law enforcement or animal control
agency. Owners of animals that have bitten will have to comply with
quarantine requirements, which depend upon the vaccination history and
species of the pet.
The Illinois Animal Control Act covers the entire state and allows for
impoundment of a dog running loose. Most communities have animal control
agencies that respond to calls of straying or loose dogs and may issue
tickets for violations or impound the loose dog. Some communities also
have prohibitions against cats roaming off their owner’s property as
well — it’s a good idea to check with your local government to see what
laws may be in place.
Animals that get impounded by animal control require a fee from the
owner to be reclaimed. State law also requires that any dog that is
impounded by animal control get microchipped at the owner’s expense.
Another section of our state law requires that any dog impounded a
second time must be neutered or spayed within 30 days of reclaim.
Humane Care for Animals
The Humane Care for Animals Act sets forth “owner’s duties” which
outlines what every owner must provide for their companion animal.
Owners must offer “sufficient quantity of good quality, wholesome food
and water; adequate shelter and protection from the weather; veterinary
care when needed to prevent suffering; and humane care and treatment.”
Our humane care laws were recently amended to include restrictions
regarding tethering dogs; if you tie or chain your dog outdoors, you
must now comply with certain conditions.
The state laws regarding humane care also define cruelty, aggravated
cruelty, and torture. Violations of this law can result in felony
convictions and penalties. These laws typically refer to dog-fighting or
other outright animal abuse.
Other Animal Laws
Other state laws that could affect animal owners include the Dead Animal
Disposal Act, the Domestic Animals (livestock) Running at Large Act,
and the Criminal Code. Illinois’ law does prohibit the private pet
ownership of some exotic and dangerous animals so before purchasing a
wild animal as a pet, be sure to check to ensure your choice is allowed.
And, check out which species of pets or animals may not be allowed in
your town, village, or city. Too many times, a citizen gets a pet —
pygmy goat, pot-bellied pig, rabbits, or even fowl — only to find they
must get rid of them.
You can access state laws on the Web at www.ilga.gov. It’s imperative,
though, that you also check with your county and municipal laws as they
may be much more restrictive. You must comply with local ordinances in
addition to statewide laws. With a little research, you’ll be in a much
better position to provide for your pet and avoid violating laws or
For more information, call Peoria County Animal Protection Services at
309-672-2440. If you see an animal in need, please call and notify us.
Looking to find a furry companion? Think Adoption! Visit our adoptable
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