Animal Welfare Groups both locally and nationwide are showing their support for HB 638, or ‘Bowa’s Law’ which changes the manner in which a dangerous dog citation can be issued in Illinois.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is an animal and pet owner welfare organization focused on dangerous dog laws and other pet protections across the nation which supports the bill. Introduced by Representative John Cabello (R-Machesney Park), the HB 638 mandates an investigation to determine probable cause that evidence exists that a dog is dangerous before its owner can be cited. It also removes a provision which allows a ‘dangerous dog’ prosecution to be conducted on a citizen’s complaint alone.
Mike Bober of PIJAC says the changes are needed protections for Illinois dog owners. “The reality of the world we live in is that if there is a mechanism to issue a complaint against someone, there are people in this world who are going to abuse it. We like to make sure for that reason that again that due process is respected.”
And he says there is another benefit. The bill if passed would also help protect breeds like pit bulls which they’ve found are more susceptible to being falsely being declared dangerous. Bober says, “We don’t believe that there such a thing as an inherently dangerous breed of animal and so to have legislation like this that helps to codify that we believe is a step in a positive direction.”
Kathy Mehalko of the Winnebago County Animal Coalition is also supporting ‘Bowa’s Law”, saying no dog owner should be subject to dangerous dog prosecution without an investigation and evidence that their dog is actually dangerous. “There should be due process and an investigation before it goes to that level,” she says.
Not all agree. Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato believes a citizen complaint alone should be adequate to issue a ‘dangerous dog’ citation. Rep. Cabello says some Animal Control officials statewide have also expressed concerns to him about the changes.
However, the bill did pass out of committee last week unanimously.
To learn more about the bill and how you can make your opinion known on it, watch our Special Report on the legislation here.
To see a copy of the bill, click here.