Illinois Dog Laws: Rabies, Dog Bites, Abandonment, and Cruelty

Illinois Dog Laws: Rabies, Dog Bites, Abandonment, and Cruelty
Illinois Dog Laws: Rabies, Dog Bites, Abandonment, and Cruelty
illinois dog laws
illinois dog laws

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What are the dog laws in Illinois? Does Illinois have dog laws? If you live in this state, you might be wondering what the law says about issues like rabies vaccination, dog bites, dog abandonment, or dog cruelty.

Read on for more information about dog laws in Illinois.

Rabies Vaccination Laws

Any dog over four months of age in Illinois must receive a rabies vaccine. This vaccine must be administered by a licensed veterinarian. Every dog is required to have a second inoculation within one year of the first. 

If an unvaccinated dog bites a person, they will be considered as a potential rabies carrier. They will be put in quarantine for 10 days. If there are no rabies symptoms, they may return home post-vaccination. If they show signs of rabies, they will be euthanized for testing.

Dog Bite Laws

Illinois is a strict liability dog bite state. Under 510 ILCS 5/16, a dog owner is liable for the full amount of a dog bite victim’s injuries. This means that a dog owner is liable for an aggressive dog even if the attack could not have been prevented or predicted. For example, consider someone visits your house. Your dog has never been previously aggressive, and is contained in a crate. However, your visitor chooses to put their hand in through the bars of the crate, and is bitten. Although precautions were taken, you would still be liable for your dog’s bite.

There are cases where dogs will not be considered aggressors in attacks, even if previously proven to be dangerous. Dog owners are not responsible for attacks in which the dog was provoked or protecting the owner. This could include yelling at, hitting, or throwing objects at the dog. Additionally, if you were trespassing on private property and then were attacked by an otherwise contained dog, the dog’s owner would not be liable.

Additionally, in some cases, there may be a “common sense” prohibition on finding a dog owner liable. For example, most people know to leave an eating dog or a mother with puppies alone. Bothering an animal when you could predict aggressive behavior will not always result in liability for the owner.

A dangerous dog, particularly a repeat offender, may be euthanized if this is determined to be in the best interest of the safety of the community. After one documented bite, a dog is considered vicious in the state of Illinois. This means that subsequent bites may lead to euthanasia. Additionally, a severe enough attack could lead the court to determine euthanasia is the best course of action even for a first offender.

Dog Abandonment Laws

In Illinois, animal abandonment is prohibited by law. According to 510 ILCS 70/3.01, “ No owner may abandon any animal where it may become a public charge or may suffer injury, hunger or exposure.” This means that simply letting an unwanted animal go loose instead of finding new caretakers is illegal. Animal abandonment is always dangerous to animals and people that may encounter them. It’s always better to surrender a pet to a shelter or rescue if you cannot keep them.

Dog Cruelty Laws

In Illinois, animal cruelty is most often a Class A misdemeanor. Animal cruelty can have serious consequences. Even first offenders can face jail time and large fines. Consequently, repeat offenders face harsher sentencing. However, in some cases animal cruelty can be a felony in Illinois. This is most often in the cases of repeat offenders. However, this can also apply to cases of aggravated animal cruelty, which is typically abuse that results in mutilation or death of the animal.

As in the other 49 states, dogfighting is a felony in Illinois. Frequently, it is a Class 4 felony; repeat offenders or offenders on multiple counts may be charged with a Class 3 felony. This doesn’t apply only to those directly fighting their animals. Charges can also occur for those betting on or attending dogfights in Illinois.

Tethering Laws

Tethering a dog is legal in Illinois. However, Illinois does restrict tethering and have protocols in place for proper tethering. Before tethering your dog, be sure you’re in accordance with Illinois’s tethering orders. While there is a long list of Illinois’s tethering orders, keep in mind that some individual counties may have specific ordinances, so research your specific area. Most of Illinois’s dog tethering laws are just good practice for humane treatment — for example, dogs must have accessible shelter, food, and water. Additionally, tethered dogs may not have a medical condition exacerbated by tethering. Leads used for tethering must also be at least ten feet in length. 

How Does Illinois Rank Against the Other 49 States?

Good news for all Illinois residents — the Animal Legal Defense Fund ranks Illinois number 2 out of all 50 states for animal protection laws! There’s many good things to praise about Illinois’s animal laws. For example, care requirements are well defined, leaving little wiggle room for neglect. Additionally, Illinois has felony provisions for animal fighting of all species. While there’s always room for improvement, this state is one of the US’s champions for successful animal protection laws.

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