AWI Pushes Animal Welfare in Illinois

A tail-docked cow on a Pennsylvania farm. The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes routine tail docking of cattle, citing its lack of benefits and potential to cause distress and chronic pain. - Photo by Cathy LissIn March, AWI staff led efforts on several animal protection measures before the Illinois General Assembly. HB 1607—a bill to prohibit tail docking of cattle, the inhumane practice of partially amputating the animals' tails—was approved by the House Business and Occupational Licenses Committee. The Farm Bureau worked hard to defeat this widely supported measure, and one dairy farmer testified against the bill, offering no scientific justification for docking tails but insisting that it was done for the welfare of the animals (a claim debunked by AWI’s testimony). The bill’s sponsor, Committee Chairman Robert Rita, also testified in favor of the bill. As of press time, no date had been set for a vote.

The Illinois House overwhelmingly approved HB 4119, a bill making it illegal to sell, possess or distribute shark fins. The bill awaits action in the Senate. If passed, this measure would reinforce federal legislation banning shark finning and the importation of fins. 

The annual legislative effort to revive horse slaughter in the state, HB 5382, never made it out of committee. Given sponsor Rep. Jim Sacia’s desire to restore horse slaughter in Illinois, it is highly likely he will try again next session. The Illinois House killed Rep. Sacia’s other anti-animal welfare bill, HB 5143, which would have made it a crime to record undercover video at animal facilities. “Ag-gag” bills such as this one have surfaced in various states recently, and two (Iowa and Utah) have passed. These laws have a chilling effect on efforts to expose egregious animal cruelty.

Unfortunately, a bill to prohibit dog tethering also died in an Illinois House committee.