New state law aims to protect kennel animals from fire
A new state law designed to protect dogs and cats housed in kennels -- spurred by a Jan. 14 blaze that killed 29 canines in a facility near Carol Stream -- will take effect immediately.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the law Tuesday to require kennels to be staffed at all times or install a fire alarm or sprinkler system in every building where animals are housed that notifies local fire departments.
The law "will protect pets from senseless tragedies and further our state's commitment to animal welfare," Pritzker said in a news release.
Woodridge resident Garrett Mercado, the operator of The Bully Life Animal Services -- formerly D & D Kennels -- faces 28 misdemeanor charges stemming from the early morning fire, including 14 counts of animal cruelty and 14 counts of violation of owner's duties.
An investigation determined the kennel was housing at least 58 dogs, many of which were mistreated, inappropriately tethered, placed in cages that were too small, or kept in crates stacked on top of one another, DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said during a news conference last month.
The facility along County Farm Road near North Avenue lacked fire prevention safety measures, Berlin said, and no one was on site to supervise the animals when the fire broke out.
The kennel has been closed since the fire, and a sign at the site indicates the property is for sale.
"Today's legislation is a win for dog and cat owners across Illinois, who can now rest assured that if they have to leave their beloved pets at a kennel, they will be protected in the event of a fire," state Rep. Diane Pappas, an Itasca Democrat, said in a news release. "With this law, Illinois becomes the first state in the nation to extend these kennel fire protections to our furry family members."