Legislation aimed at helping owners reunite with their lost pets has been signed by the Governor, according to Sen. Althoff, the bill's sponsor.

Senate Bill 1637, which passed the General Assembly without opposition, encourages animal control facilities to adopt “best practices” that go beyond simply scanning a pet for microchips in order to identify the animal’s owner.

Under current law, when a dog or cat is impounded they must be scanned for the presence of a microchip. Althoff’s legislation requires animal control facilities to also examine pets for other methods of identification, including ID tags, tattoos, and rabies license tags. The bill also requires the scan and examination to occur within 24 hours after the dog or cat is impounded.

“For many households, pets are like members of our family,” Althoff said. “When one of our furry companions is lost, we want to make sure everything possible is being done to bring them home. Unfortunately, many families have a false sense of security that microchipping their pet guarantees it will be found, when it’s far more complicated then that.”

Althoff noted that Illinois counties use a variety of scanner to scan the chips, which are made by various manufacturers and may use different frequencies. This means a pet microchipped in one area might not be identified when it’s scanned in a different region, which makes checking them through other methods even more crucial.

“Fortunately, we have some county animal control facilities who are already taking these extra steps to get pets back home.  We pushed for this bill to ensure that all counties adopt these best practices, and commend Sen. Althoff and Rep. David Reis for their leadership on this issue.” said Steve Hayden, president of the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners. 

Under Senate Bill 1637, animal control facilities would also be required to try to reach owners by telephone and email, in addition to mailed notices as they are currently obligated. If the animal has been microchipped and the primary contact cannot be located or refuses to claim the animal, the facility’s administrator should then attempt to contact any secondary contacts listed by the chip manufacturer prior to adoption, transfer, or euthanization.

The measure also encourages the facilities to scan and examine pets a second time for the presence of a microchip and other identifying characteristics prior to any transfer or euthanizing of the animal.

“The fact is, by taking some very easy and common-sense steps, animal control facilities can really increase their success rate at reuniting lost pets with their owners and save their lives in the process,” Althoff said. “As anyone who’s lost a pet can tell you, it can be a very traumatic experience for families, and children in particular. They should be comforted knowing that the animal control facilities in their area are doing everything they can to reunite them with their pets.”

In addition to passing the legislation, Sen. Althoff and the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners are working with groups such the American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery to continue the fight to ensure lost pets are reunited with their owners. The organizations have agreed to donate 10 scanners for animal control facilities in need to minimize the financial burden facing them.

 

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