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Illinois Pet Limit

Illinois seeks to limit number of pets residents may keep with H.B. 1166.

July 2010 Editor's Note
Breeder's Choice: Morelia Viridis
George W. Folkerts

Legislators in Illinois have introduced a bill that, if approved, would prohibit residents from keeping more than six companion animals without a permit. House Bill 1166 would create, by far, the most restrictive state law in the United States, in terms of regulating the number of pet animals a person may keep, according to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC).

A public hearing on the measure is set for Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011.


As introduced, H.B. 1166 would require a person to obtain a permit if he or she wishes to have seven or more “companion animals.” A companion animal, as defined by the state, is an animal that is commonly considered to be, or is considered by the owner to be, a pet.

Under the proposed bill, first-time offenders would be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Second-time or subsequent violators would be guilty of a Class 4 felony, with every day that a violation continues constituting a separate offense.

H.B. 1166 also seeks to change the definition of a companion animal hoarder to make it less vague. Currently, an animal hoarder is someone who keeps “a large number” of companion animals; fails to or is unable to provide what he or she is required to provide under the state’s Humane Care for Animals Act; keeps the companion animals in a severely overcrowded environment; and displays an inability to recognize or understand the nature of or has a reckless disregard for the conditions under which the companion animals are living and the deleterious impact they have on the companion animals’ and owner’s health and well-being.

H.B. 1166 would amend the law to define an animal hoarder at someone who keeps seven or more companion animals. The other criteria would remain unchanged.

PIJAC has issued an industry alert in which the Washington, D.C.-based organization said it supports responsible ownership of pets and enforcement of humane care standards but strongly opposes “arbitrary” limits on the number of pet animals a person may keep.


“So long as companion animal owners are responsibly caring for their pets, they should not be compelled to obtain a permit merely for keeping such pets,” PIJAC stated in the alert.

The House Committee on Agriculture and Conservation is scheduled to hear H.B. 1166 on Feb. 22, 2 p.m., in the state Capitol. PIJAC is urging the public to voice their opposition to the bill.

To view H.B. 1166 in its entirety, click here.