Whether you’re new to Chicago or just got a dog, you may not be aware of all the regulations, policies, and laws that apply to pet ownership in the city. You likely already know that animal cruelty is against the law, but there are other, more specific laws and ordinances regarding dog and pet ownership in general that are helpful to know and must be followed. Read on to learn more about your responsibilities as a dog owner in the city of Chicago.
“Owner duties” refers to the responsibilities for each pet owner to provide for their animals: sufficient quantity of good quality, wholesome food and water; adequate shelter and protection from the weather; veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering; and humane care and treatment. Failure to meet these conditions is a class C misdemeanor, and those convicted are punishable with up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500.00.
This law states that no person may beat, cruelly treat, torment, starve, overwork, or otherwise abuse any animal. They also may not abandon any animal where it may become a public charge, or where it may suffer injury, hunger, or exposure. Failure to comply with this law is also punishable – anyone found guilty of violating these laws is guilty of up to a Class C misdemeanor. A second conviction is a Class B misdemeanor, and a third/subsequent conviction is a Class A misdemeanor.
Aggravated cruelty law states that no person may intentionally commit an act that causes a companion animal to suffer serious injury or death. Thisdoes not include euthanasia through recognized methods approved by the Department of Agriculture. Being found guilty of violating this is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 1 year in jail.
Confinement in a Motor Vehicle
This law states that no pet owner or person may confine an animal in a motor vehicle in such a manner that places the animal’s life or health in danger—for instance, in very hot or very cold conditions, or in a car with no ventilation. Violating is a petty offense, but a second or subsequent conviction is a Class C misdemeanor.
These ordinances are specific to Chicago, although many may apply to Chicago’s surrounding suburbs. If you live in or near Chicago, it’s best to familiarize yourself with your municipality’s specific set of guidelines. Any person caught violating any of the following ordinances in Chicago may be fined up to $200 per offense.
Dog owners are required to have all dogs over the age of six months vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. This not only protects the dog against contracting the disease, but also prevents the spread of it to other dogs and the public.
Pet owners must register their dogs with the city. Licenses expire every year on April 30th, and all dogs over six months old should be licensed and should wear their tags at all times for easy identification. Licensing fees vary based on whether the animal is spayed or neutered, as well.
Pet owners must restrain animals when in public spaces, either with a leash, crate, cage, or vehicle, or confined on the owner’s premises (in a fenced-in yard, not roaming free). This helps ensures the safety of both the pet and people.
Pet owners must not take their pets onto public or private property (unless with property owner’s consent) unless the pet’s owner has means to remove any waste left by the dog. This does not, however, apply to blind pet owners using guide dogs.
Animal Bite Responsibilities
The owner of any animal, which has bitten another animal or a human, is responsible for reporting the bite to the Commission of Animal Care and Control. Then, if the animal is to be impounded, the owner is responsible for surrendering the animal within 24 hours to be checked for rabies vaccination records. The impoundment or euthanasia of such an animal will not be required until the dog is examined by a veterinarian. It is also not legal to give away the animal or take the animal out of the city as a way to avoid being examined.
This last ordinance seems to be not as strictly followed as the text would make you believe – these terms are typically worked out between the biting-dog’s owner and the owner of the other animal that was bitten or the person who was bitten.
Still, if your dog has to be impounded, you are required to pay for housing the animal at the Animal Control Center, and prior to release of the animal, vaccination and license certificates must be presented, so it is always recommended to keep your pet up to date on everything.
For more information on dog ownership responsibilities, review the IL Humane Care for Animals Act.