Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lizard Slaying a Test for Illinois Animal Law

Domestic turmoil in a Kane County family is exposing a little-known provision in Illinois' animal protection laws.

A West Dundee woman is accused of stabbing two of her husband's lizards. One lizard died, the other recovered. Kane County is charging her with aggravated animal cruelty for hurting "a companion animal." That could bring between one and three years in jail.

Her lawyer says the lizards are not companion animals; they're just not like cats or dogs.

But animal law attorney Amy Breyer says that will be a tough sell in court. She's not involved in the case, but offers the example of cats. If a cat is wild...

BREYER: That's not going to be a companion animal under Illinois law, but you take a cat that lives with a family, where the family feeds the animal everyday, the animal sits on the couch and watches TV with them. This is a companion animal and the law will treat it as such.

Breyer says many animals can qualify as a companion animals, even lizards.

The Kane County lizard cruelty case goes to court next month.

Copyright 2008, Chicago Public Radio

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