Gateway Pet Guardians push public to sign petition for HB 240

Saint Louis, MO, February 6, 2011 – Gateways Pet Guardians’ mission is simple-rescue as many dogs and cats as possible and try to help control the stray problem in the St. Louis area, specifically in East St. Louis. But currently no person, including rescue organizations, can capture a stray dog or cat for the purposes of spayed /neuter and then release it as it constitutes “abandonment” under the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act. In order for rescues to comply with the law they must “rescue” any animal that they wish to spay or neuter, which means leaving unaltered male and female dogs on the street to continue breeding due to lack of shelter space or foster home availability.

Gateway Pet Guardians’ volunteers drive to East St. Louis every day to feed the strays that live in the abandoned buildings littered across the area. When foster homes are available, the organization rescues the animals they can, has them spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and eventually adopts them to new families. Due to space constraints, they can’t save every animal.

“We can’t rescue as many adult dogs because we’re constantly rescuing the puppies that they are continually producing. For every one adult dog we can’t rescue, they’ll produce a litter of six more every few months or so – it’s a never ending cycle,” says Gateway Pet Guardians president Amie Simmons. “If we could just tackle the root of the problem, we’d be that much closer to actually making an impact and eliminating it. But right now, we’re just trying to keep up.”

Dog and cat over population in urban areas is becoming unsustainable across the country-shelters are full, not only with stray animals but pets that are being surrendered due to economic circumstances. Families are being forced out of their homes due to foreclosure into apartments where pets are not allowed or the costs associated with being a pet owner are no longer affordable. Many shelters have a no surrender policy, which can then result in animals being abandoned. East St. Louis is a known dumping ground for unwanted pets.

“When people don’t spay or neuter their pet, and then they leave those animals on the streets to keep breeding with the strays that are already there, they just perpetuate the problem that we’re trying to correct,” says Simmons.

It is for this reason that Gateway Pet Guardians has joined forces with Illinois legislators to amend current legislation. The organization enlisted the help of Winston Strawn, LLP, a Chicago-based law firm, and Illinois Representative Tom Holbrook of St. Clair County to attempt to clarify the abandonment law in Illinois. Holbrook has introduced HB 240 which would ensure that Trap/Neuter/Release is not a violation of the Humane Care for Animals Act. In the long run, it would also save taxpayers money by reducing the number of animals coming into animal control agencies throughout the state and allow organizations like Gateway Pet Guardians to vaccinate and spay or neuter strays on the streets to keep them from breeding until a foster home becomes available so the animal can be rescued.

With this legislation, Illinois will set the stage for Gateway Pet Guardians and other rescue organizations to not only control the overpopulation problem, but take a giant step toward eliminating it and ending the deaths of thousands of perfectly adoptable pets in kill- shelters across the state.

Jamie Case, Executive Director of Gateway Pet Guardians, explains the urgent need to pass HB 240 legislation, “The problem in East St. Louis is horrific and without corrected legislation and community support, the city will never be able to combat animal overpopulation.”

Gateway Pet Guardians and their supporters are asking all residents of Illinois to sign the current petition supporting HB 240 which can be found on their website, www.gatewaypets.com. Signatures will let lawmakers know that this is the most impactful thing they can do to aid this cause.

About Gateway Pet Guardians
Gateway Pet Guardians is a nonprofit virtual animal shelter that relies on donations and volunteer foster families to rescue starving and abandoned animals. For more information about Gateway Pet Guardians, events, purchasing tickets, or to donate, volunteer, or become a foster family, visit www.gatewaypets.com.