2019 IL Law Changes for Reckless Dog Owners

reckless dog ownerThe new year has brought multiple changes and additions to the current laws of Illinois. One law that has been modified with the new year is the Animal Control Act’s new provisions regarding “reckless dog owners.”

A person can now be found to be a “reckless dog owner” if they own a dog that kills another dog, while not on the owner’s property and without justification, and which results in their dog being deemed a dangerous dog under the Animal Control Act.[1] In order to be found to be a reckless dog owner, the owner must also knowingly allow the dog to run at large [2]on two (2) occasions within twelve (12) months of the incident or the dog must have been involved in another incident that resulted in the dog being deemed dangerous within twenty-four (24) months of the incident in which another dog was killed.[3] While this does not result in a criminal conviction, Illinois has other criminal laws allowing for charges against an owner of a dog who kills a person or a companion animal.

If someone is found to be a reckless dog owner, the court may order that all dogs in the owner’s possession be immediately impounded and forfeited.[4] The court can also prohibit the reckless dog owner from having any ownership of a dog for at least twelve (12) months, but no more than three (3) years, for a first offense.[5] If a person found to be a reckless dog owner refuses to forfeit a dog, they will be fined $500.00 per dog, per day that they refuse to forfeit, which will deposited into the Pet Population Control Fund.[6] This means that if a reckless dog owner refuses to give up one (1) dog for an entire week, they can be fined $3,500.00.

If a dog is forfeited by a person found to be a reckless dog owner, the dog’s temperament will be independently evaluated by a qualified person in order to determine whether the dog will be placed for adoption, transferred to a rescue or placed in a sanctuary.[7] Interestingly, the statute specifically notes that a forfeited dog’s history while in the care of the reckless dog owner will not be considered conclusive evidence of the dog’s temperament.[8]

If you have any questions about the new reckless dog owner statute or any implications it may have on pet visitation proceedings in dissolution case, please contact our office at shererlaw.com or 618-692-6656.

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[1]510 ILCS 5/2.18b

[2]510 ILCS 5/9

[3]510 ILCS 5/2.18b

[4]510 ILCS 5/15.5(a)


[6]510 ILCS 5/15.5(b)

[7]510 ILCS 5/15.5(a-5)


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