In most cities and municipalities, including Chicago, animal owners have strict laws and regulations that are in place that they must abide by. These rules are put in place to protect the public from injury from animals owned by others, placing the responsibility for their containment and behavior on their owners. When a dog or other animal harms another person, the law in Chicago is clear on when the liability for the injuries is the responsibility of the animal owner.
Illinois Animal Control Act: The Law Controlling Dog Liability Throughout Illinois
Illinois law progressively imposes liability of damages caused by a dog or other animal on the owner of the animal. In the Illinois (510 ILC S5/) Animal Control Act, an “owner” is described as anyone who harbors an animal on their property, acts as their custodian or knowingly allows an animal to stay on their property. This means that a property owner may be liable for injuries that a dog or other animal that resides on their property causes, whether or not they consider themselves the owner of the animal.
According to the Illinois (510 ILC S5/) Animal Control Act, liability of injuries from a dog attack are primarily the responsibility of the dog owner, as stated in Section 16:
Animal attacks or injuries. If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.
In addition, the law also outlines the responsibilities of dog owners to control and restrain their dog or animal. If a dog is deemed dangerous or vicious, the owner is responsible for enclosing or restraining their dog. Each municipality in Illinois may have individual laws and restrictions of all dogs being allowed to be “at large” or unrestrained.
Chicago Animal Care And Control Laws
Chicago municipal code has specific regulations regarding animal care and control within the city limits. Under Title 7, Health and Safety, of the Municipal Code of Chicago, chapters 7-12 are dedicated to animal care and control. According to the code, dog and animal owners are required to:
- Animals are required to be restrained. Dogs are required to be confined inside the property line of the owner, including reaching their heads through, under or over a fence. If a dog bites, jumps on, attacks or threatens anyone outside of the owner’s property, they may be subject to a penalty.
- Owner’s responsibilities for injuries. If a dog or animal injures another person or their property due to not being restrained, the owner of the animal may be subject to fines as well as full restitution to the injured party for damages.
- Dangerous animals. If an animal is determined to be dangerous by the executive director, there are additional requirements for restraining the dog or animal. This can include extensive measures to confine the animal, muzzle requirements, sterilization, microchipping, liability insurance, obedience training and other stipulations.
Both Illinois and Chicago law protects the rights of citizens from unprovoked animal attacks and establish that the responsibility of restraining these animals is on the animal owners. When dog or animal attacks occur, in most cases the burden of liability for injuries will be on the owner. This can include medical bills, lost wages, plastic surgery and other expenses.
For additional information about laws and ordinances applicable to dogs in the City of Chicago and State of Illinois: