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Holmes introduces bill to cut pet restrictions in public housing

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SPRINGFIELD – Pets are part of two out of three households in America, including 72 percent of renters. Restrictions in public housing can prevent a family from keeping a pet based on its size, weight or breed. That results in pets being surrendered to already-burdened animal shelters.

Senate Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes is introducing Senate Bill 2973, which would allow any tenant living in housing acquired, constructed or rehabilitated with state funds for low-income housing to keep a pet dog or cat regardless of its size, weight, or breed.

“ASen. Holmes meets Chani, who was surrendered to a shelter due to a housing problem leading reason pets end up surrendered to shelters is housing issues that force some pet owners into a position of choosing between keeping their pet or keeping a roof over their head,” Holmes said. “Pets are part of our families, regardless of the family’s income level.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, pets have positive effects at nearly every stage of life. They influence social, emotional, and cognitive development in children and promote an active lifestyle. They provide emotional support, improve moods, and contribute to the overall morale of their owners, including among the elderly and disabled. Studies reveal that people with pets tend to have lower blood pressure.

“There is a shortage of affordable housing for families in Illinois, and that is exacerbated for pet-owning families,” Holmes said. “On the animals’ side, in shelters they may be adopted, or they may be destroyed. And there is an emotional toll on a family if they have to give up their beloved cat or dog. With this legislation I’m seeking a way to address both sides of this situation and keep pets with their families and out of shelters.”

According to Best Friends Animal Society, renters with pets stay longer than those without; do no more damage statistically than non-pet renters; and 90% of renters have never lost a security deposit due to a pet.

Senate Bill 2973 passed on its first reading in the Senate Local Government Committee.