Illinois has passed a new law, effective immediately, that will protect cats and dogs around the state by preventing pet stores from selling animals sourced from irresponsible commercial breeders, and ensuring more pets are microchipped before heading to their forever homes.

Senate Bill 1882, also known as “Safe Pets”, was signed into law on August 24. It was the personal project of Illinois Senator Michael Hastings, who worked with the Humane Society of Illinois and the Illinois Pet Lovers Association with the goal of stronger regulations on pet stores—which often have a reputation of buying from breeders that treat animals poorly.

“It is our duty to put protections in place to protect our family pets’ well-being as well as make sure there are precautions in place to reunite dogs and cats with our families sooner,” said Hastings in a press release.

Alley Cat Allies sent letters of support for the bill to the Senate Committee on Assignments, and we are thrilled this important legislation passed! Under the new law:

  • Pet stores are banned from purchasing animals from breeders who are unlicensed and have received citations on their USDA inspection reports within the last two years.
  • Pet stores are required to obtain copies of USDA inspection reports about any breeders they buy from before they purchase an animal.
  • Pet stores that sell cats and dogs must microchip the animals prior to sale. They must also allow an animal’s purchaser to list the shop as a secondary contact on the microchip. This way, someone who finds a lost animal has two points of contact and can quicker reunite the animal with the owner.
  • Dog dealers or cattery operators that sell dogs and cats must provide documentation indicating the dog or cat has been microchipped and the microchip has been registered with a nationally searchable database.

The law is a huge step forward to making sure animals sold in Illinois pet stores are healthy and discouraging negligent breeders from selling in the state. It also raises awareness of how microchips save animals’ lives—something Alley Cat Allies has worked hard to educate communities about.

However, if not for Alley Cat Allies, this law could have been much less effective. The original bill contained dangerous language that would have stripped local governments of their ability to safeguard residents from the irresponsible practices of large breeding operations. It would have prevented local legislators from making critical decisions about the animals in their community, such as requiring pet stores to stop selling animals and mandating that they can only be adopted.

Alley Cat Allies staff asked the Illinois Senate to remove this language from the bill, and thankfully they listened! Now the state has a model new law to protect animals and citizens alike—and help reunite families should a pet stray from home. We are proud to see our hard work pay off and look forward to seeing how the “Safe Pets” law changes Illinois for the better.