Illinois HB 1080: What Illinois Representative John Bradley Doesn’t Know about Animal Control Could Amount to Alot of Dead Dogs
March 18, 2011 update: According to HB 1080’s status page, HB 1080 has been kicked back down to the Rules Committee where its sponsor is most likely hoping for an assignment to a more amenable committee. We hope HB 1080 dies a well-deserved, dishonorable death in the Rules Committee because the bill and its sponsor stand for low-ball politics.
Please write the Rules Committee and politely ask them not to give in to Rep. Bradley’s attempt at an end-around of the democratic process. And yes, merely changing one word in a so-called “amendment” in order to get HB 1080 out of the Agriculture Committee where it didn’t stand a chance, and back to the Rules Committee where it is hoped that the bill will get an assignment to a committee that will pass it on to the House floor is an end-around of the democratic process. So is cancelling meeting after meeting where the bill is scheduled to be heard in committee in hopes of waiting out your opposition.
Agriculture & Conservation Committee Hearing
Mar 15, 2011, 1:00 p.m.
Stratton Building, Room 413
A couple of years ago when Illinois was considering breed-specific legislation (BSL) at the state level, week after week the meetings where the BSL was to be heard kept getting cancelled just like what is happening now with HB 1080. They were waiting everyone out because they knew most people couldn’t keep making the trip hundreds of miles from all over the state to committee meetings that kept getting cancelled. It was a subversion of the democratic process, just like what is happening now with HB 1080.
In this case, it looks like Bradley knows he clearly has no support for HB 1080 in the Agriculture Committee and so he has added some nonsense amendment (the “amendment” simply strikes out the word “the” and replaces it in some text about rabies vaccines) to the bill to try to kick it back to the Rules Committee hoping he gets a better committee assignment than Agriculture. I’m guessing the “amendment” is also why his office is misleading people telling them that HB 1080 doesn’t have a committee assignment yet when you call. Bradley is probably well aware that he has no support for the bill in the Ag Committee, but neither that, nor the fact that a majority of Illinoisans don’t want HB 1080 to pass, seems to be a deterrent for him. Usually that means there’s some special interest backing the bill from the shadows and that the bought-off “representative” has to earn his payola, er I mean, his “campaign contribution,” and pull out all the political dirty tricks to try to get the bill through.
HB 1080 has been assigned to the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee. You can track the bill here. Please send your polite letters opposing HB 1080 to the Illinois House Agriculture & Conservation Committee and let’s stay vigilant Illinois. This bill, if passed, will spell needless death for thousands of dogs in the state of Illinois!
As we wrote about several days ago, Illinois Representative John Bradley has proposed HB 1080, a bill that would overturn the prohibition of breed-specific legislation in the state of Illinois allowing any municipality to ban or restrict any breed of dog it so chooses. As this article on the KFVS channel 12 website explains, HB 1080 is supposedly in response to several dogs attacking a boy in southern Illinois. Yet, rather than looking at the situation logically, Bradley concludes instead that the attack on the boy was a failing of poor legislation rather than poorly-enforced legislation. In other words, had the city where the attack happened enforced its leash law and had there been adequate Animal Control personnel, maybe there wouldn’t have been free-roaming dogs roaming around; free-roaming dogs that put the boy in jeopardy. [And here I should make it clear that I’m not accusing Animal Control of failing to protect the boy. Many times attacks happen after repeated complaints have been made to Animal Control, but municipalities across Illinois have been hard-hit by the economic downturn and have cut back on Animal Control. This is not the Animal Control officers’ fault, but it’s also not the fault of any one breed of dog either.]
The other faulty assumption Bradley makes is that because the attacking dogs were supposedly “pit bulls” (though there is no such breed as “pit bull”) that a breed ban or breed-specific restrictions would have prevented the attack. On the contrary, there is ample evidence nationally and internationally of the failing of breed-specific legislation. We must also conclude that Rep. Bradley knows little about dogs because if he did understand the nature of dogs, he’d know that it’s not the breed in a free-roaming situation that makes dogs dangerous; it’s the fact that they are free-roaming that makes them potentially dangerous. Again, this points to a lack of Animal Control enforcement, not a breed problem. In fact, Ledy VanKavage, attorney for Best Friends Animal Society observes that,
“Illinois has some of the strongest dangerous dog laws on the books, so what’s the problem? The answer is lack of enforcement.”
Hurst, Illinois Police Chief Ronald Harvel echoes VanKavages’ argument about the need for more Animal Control involvement saying that the attack on the boy has forced the community “to step up enforcement of leash and other animal laws already on the books.” Nearby Bush, Illinois has also increased fines for owners of free-roaming dogs. These are great first steps, but why weren’t communities in southern Illinois doing this before a boy was attacked? And why now are these same communities looking to punish innocent owners — the only ones who ever comply with breed restrictions — by backing impotent breed-specific legislation (BSL)? Besides all the ample evidence that BSL is ineffective, unenforceable, expensive, and even unconstitutional, why does it not occur to BSL proponents that irresponsible owners who already weren’t abiding by the law by allowing their dogs to free roam, etc., won’t suddenly start obeying the law just because a lawmaker passes additional legislation?
Rep. Bradley maintains that he doesn’t “want to see this kind of thing happen again in southern Illinois.” Agreed. So why is he proposing legislation that would lead to breed-specific laws which have proven over several decades to not reduce dog bites and which are wholly ineffective as a deterrent? I fear too, from the way Rep. Bradley was talking, that he doesn’t know enough about breed-specific legislation to be proposing it (especially not the part about how often BSL amounts to a staggering number of innocent dead dogs).
And who lied and told Rep. Bradley that “now only some communities in Illinois can ban breed specific dogs”? (Emphasis mine.) Wrong, wrong, wrong. NO community in Illinois, home rule or not, can legally ban specific breeds of dog. The issue of home rule as pertains to BSL has not been established in Illinois such that Rep. Bradley or anyone else can recommend that Illinois municipalities pass it. Home rule authority can only be invoked to override state law for things like public safety, and since there is no scientific proof that any one dog breed is inherently dangerous, there is no justification under home rule doctrine to pass breed-specific legislation. Therefore, the home rule argument — that there is a rational basis, safety, to pass BSL — has not been proven in Illinois (or anywhere else for that matter). In fact, the home rule argument for BSL is losing steam since Toledo was ordered to stop enforcing their BSL in 2010 after an Ohio court ruled their home rule ordinance went beyond the purview of state law and was therefore unconstitutional (but not before Toledo seized and killed a whole lot of innocent dogs).
Add to the argument against home rule being used to supposedly justify BSL that BSL is widely known to be ineffective, and there is absolutely no rational basis to ban or restrict specific breeds of dog in Illinois. And as I noted in a previous post, Rep. Bradley is an attorney and he ought to know better, but judging from his display of ignorance in the above-cited article, it appears as if he has not thoroughly investigated BSL such that he should be proposing to allow it in the state of Illinois via his bill.
Indeed, Rep. Bradley appears to discount rational thought in lieu of appealing to Illinoisans’ emotional side saying,
“‘All we’re trying to do is just give these local communities the ability to governor themselves and if a community wants take drastic steps, in order to protect their communities from vicious dog attacks, then we need to look as a legislator to give the local communities the ability to do that,’ Bradley said.” [These are his type-o’s and/or grammatical mistakes, not mine.]
And I would ask Rep. Bradley who the “we” is that he’s referring to when he says “All we‘re trying to do.” See, by “we” I think Rep. Bradley means the special interest lobby behind him who put him up to pushing this bill. How do I know? Because there just happens to simultaneously be two other bills in Oklahoma and Texas that would likewise overturn the statewide prohibition of BSL in those states respectively. So which radical animal rights group is backing this bill from the shadows this time? Anyone care to take a guess? PETA? The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)? Well, before backing this bill perhaps Rep. Bradley should have done his homework and researched PETA‘s and the HSUS‘ domestic terrorist ties and the fact that both of these groups have expressed a desire to end domestic pet ownership:
“We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.”– Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the United States, Animal People, May, 1993.
“In the end, I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.” — Ingrid Newkirk, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Newsday, Feb. 21, 1988.
At this point, it is no longer a secret that both PETA and the HSUS have pushed breed-specific legislation. So why should we expect that radical animal rights groups wouldn’t be involved in pushing BSL on the state level where their lobbyists are even slimier and the stakes a whole lot higher? I maintain, however, that a terrorist in a $2,000 suit is still a terrorist. But the real question all Illinoisans need to be asking is: What would an elected official get in exchange for supporting radical animal rightists’ legislation? Perhaps that’s a question we all need to put before Rep. Bradley when HB 1080 comes before committee.
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