New state law aims to protect pets from reckless dog owners

By Jordyn Pair, Illinois News Network

A new Illinois law holds reckless dog owners accountable for their dog’s actions.

The “Justice for Buddy” law allows a circuit court to order the forfeiture of a dog if the owner is found to be reckless.

“If the dog is declared dangerous, then it will be removed from the home and it will be evaluated,” said state Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, a sponsor of the bill. “If that evaluation says there is no opportunity for the dog to be rehabilitated, then the dog would be put down.”

The law says a dog owner is reckless if the dog has been deemed dangerous for killing another pet and is found running at large twice within a year of that designation.

The law came about after Hanover Park resident Donna Darry’s Yorkshire terrier, Buddy, was killed in 2017 by dogs belonging to a neighbor. 

“She said that ‘I know civilly I could sue these people,’ ” said Murphy, “‘but there should be … some accountability for the dog owners because the dogs do what owners allow and homeowners have a responsibility to be responsible for their pets.’”

The law both allows a circuit court to order the removal of the dog, as well as prohibits the owner from owning another dog for one to three years.

Murphy said she worked with pet groups to ensure the best law possible.

“I was really happy that we were able to come to agreement with all of the groups and develop language that is really going to hold owners accountable for the behavior of their animals,” Murphy said, “because that animals behavior is predicated on the environment they’re raised in.”

The “Justice for Buddy” law, Senate Bill 2386, went into effect on Jan. 1.