1. On January 1, 2016, a new bill went into effect in Illinois making it a misdemeanor offense for people to leave pets outside in extreme cold or heat. The bill was part of an effort by local lawmakers to dissuade people from exposing their pets to unsafe weather conditions. Under the law, if pets are injured or killed as a result of exposure violators can face up to a $2,500 fine and a year in jail.
2. It’s good to be a winner! In 2016, for the 8th year in a row, Illinois ranked #1 in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) annual rankings of the best states for animal protection laws. The ALDF looks at over 4,000 statutes in each state to determine its rankings, which are based on legislation related to everything from dog fighting to domestic violence orders to civil immunity for removing a dog from a hot car.
3. Chicago’s animal rescue community got a whole lot stronger in 2016 with the creation of the Chicagoland Rescue Intervention & Support Program (CRISP). CRISP is a partnership among various local rescues, including Lulu’s Locker, One Tail at a Time, Alive Rescue, Players for Pits, the Fetching Tails Foundation, and Chicago Canine Rescue, all of whom joined forces with Chicago Animal Care & Control (CACC) to bring collaborative support to the area’s pets in need. One of their first initiatives included staffing the “Animobile” outside CACC, providing resources and options to people who are coming to surrender their pet.
4. Chicago’s Anti-Puppy Mill bill finally went into full effect. The bill, which many animal welfare organizations and county lawmakers fought tirelessly for, bans the selling of commercially-bred dogs, cats, and rabbits in Chicago pet stores. This was an enormous step forward for the city in stopping the cruel practices of puppy mills, and other counties and townships have begun moving forward with similar plans.
5. It was a good year for creativity in the shelter world. First there was the creation of The Anti-Cruelty Society’s Home-to-Home Shelter Bypass Service, which allows people to safely rehome their pets through the shelter’s adoption network, helping animals avoid the stress of the shelter while staying in their current residence. Then there was Alive Rescue, who responded to the dog flu crisis by turning their entire Little Barn shelter into an isolation housing center to get dogs out of CACC faster. And finally, One Tail at a Time‘s “Good Dog, Forever Dog!” program, which provides special support and incentives to get long-term animals off the adoption floor and into loving homes.
6. Chicago is a world-class tourist city, and local hotels stepped up to the plate using their own resources to help out local animals. The Park Hyatt adopted Parker, a disabled Pug, from PAWS, and gifted her with a forever life of luxury. The hotel also began their “Bark Hyatt” program, offering perks and amenities to guests who stay at the hotel with their pets, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting the animals of PAWS. The James Hotel began offering a similar program, donating proceeds from each pet’s stay to PAWS and Animal Haven.