Thanks to our hard work, Illinois counties now have the freedom to use their money to fund lifesaving programs for cats. Under a new law, if counties put their dog and cat registration fees into a county animal population control fund, they can then use that money to fund Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) programs in their communities.

Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 641 into law on August 25. On top of allowing funds to be used to trap, spay or neuter, and return cats, the law also gives counties the option to fund low-cost spay and neuter services for the pets of owners receiving disability benefits. If counties use their new rights to support these programs, countless cats’ lives can be saved.

It is important to note that the law does not require counties to use their funds for programs like TNVR. It only gives them the option to do so, which is still an important step forward. Counties with active Trap-Neuter-Return programs or groups can now choose to financially support them, and citizens can lobby more reluctant counties to do the same.

Community cats are not socialized to people and are unadoptable, so shelters are a death sentence for them. Having the choice to fund TNVR programs saves their lives by getting them out of shelters and back where they belong—their outdoor homes. TNVR also helps counties save money that would have otherwise been used to house the cats in shelters.

Alley Cat Allies has backed this progressive bill for months. Our staff sent a letter of support to Illinois legislators, and we mobilized our supporters in the state through targeted action alerts and social media. Under our leadership, citizens filled out witness slips in favor of the bill and connected with their legislators to urge them to pass it.

We want to thank our Illinois supporters for their compassion and dedication to pushing this important law forward. We strongly hope Illinois counties choose to leverage their new freedom to save cats’ lives.