The youth of today! They're pretty great for animals, if what just happened in Illinois is any indication.
Three third-graders from the Chicago suburbs were the force behind a new law that increases penalties for animal abuse.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Brooke Martin, Claire Hackmann and Maddie O'Dell became animal welfare activists after reading a book about two kids who rescued a puppy from a puppy mill.
The three almost immediately got political: they contacted their state representative, gave a school presentation, collected signatures from other students and community members, then -- as could happen with any bunch of grade-schoolers, really -- testified before the Illinois House Agriculture and Conservation Committee.
House Bill 4410 passed both houses in May, and Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed the bill on Saturday at the no-kill shelter PAWS Chicago. The law raises the fine for a first violation of the Animal Welfare Act from $200 to $500 and a second violation from $500 to $1,000. A third violation now results in a $2,500 fine plus probationary status, all effective immediately.
You can see the effective young politicos flanking Quinn in this video from the event:
“Our pets are a part of the family, and we must always treat them with care and respect,” Quinn said in a news release. “Three students from Arlington Heights created this new law because they wanted to make a difference and protect animals across Illinois.”
Paula Fasseas, founder and chairman of PAWS Chicago, is also thrilled that the students have taken up animal welfare as their cause.
“Animals are defenseless living beings," he said in a statement, "and we must be their voice and protectors."