Position Statements

Explore The Anti-Cruelty Society’s policies and positions on important animal-related issues.

Mission Statement

Building a community of caring by helping pets and educating people.

The Anti-Cruelty Society believes that all animals should be treated humanely and with compassion. We support the five freedoms for any animal kept by humans:

Freedom from hunger and thirst,
Freedom from discomfort,
Freedom from pain, injury, or disease,
Freedom from fear and distress,
Freedom to express normal behavior.

Today our focus is on pets, primarily cats and dogs. 

Pets and Responsible Pet Ownership

The Anti-Cruelty Society believes that companion animals provide people with joy, recognized health benefits, and unconditional love. Ownership carries the responsibility of meeting the physical and social needs of the animal including food, shelter, safety, veterinary care, and companionship. We strongly encourage the identification of all pets through collars with tags and recommend permanent identification methods (e.g. microchips). The owner should be familiar with and follow the existing laws relating to animals such as licensing, leash regulation, rabies vaccination, and waste disposal. When outdoors in public, all animals should be under proper restraint or control.

Service Animals

Service animals are animals trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of normal living. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as “… any… dog (or miniature horse) individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. . . The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” If a dog meets this definition, it is considered a service animal regardless of whether it has been “certified” by a local government or an animal training program. Although The Anti-Cruelty Society recognizes that pets offer emotional support and comfort, the Society does not condone owners claiming their pet is a service animal outside of this definition. 

Education & Training

The Anti-Cruelty Society is deeply committed to humane education programs, especially in the primary and secondary schools. Such education should be an integral part of study programs.

The Anti-Cruelty Society continues to support initiatives and dialogue aimed at reducing violence and abuse in all of its forms. We recognize the documented connection between human and animal violence, and believe that by increasing awareness of this link through humane education, we can more effectively help address the violence issues facing society and our animals.

Keeping live animals in schools as pets should be limited by the availability of responsible supervision, proper care and facilities, and appropriate care and placement during school breaks.

Pet visitation programs can support educational programs or provide psychological and emotional benefits to humans. Animals in these programs should only participate voluntarily, be given adequate rest between encounters, be transported safely and humanely, and be provided all the necessities of responsible pet care.

Dog training allows animal owners to positively affect changes in their pet’s behavior. We recommend basic obedience training based on positive reinforcement rather than on punishment.


The Anti-Cruelty Society believes sterilization is the most effective way of overcoming the companion animal overpopulation crisis. Mandatory spay/neuter procedures prior to adoption are supported within the Society and in cooperation with the State of Illinois, other humane societies, and veterinarians. We support early-age (prepubertal) sterilizations for shelter animals.


The Anti-Cruelty Society remains an open-admissions shelter and we accept all animals that we are legally permitted to hold. We are committed to eliminating the euthanasia of pets that are adoptable and we recognize that not all animals are adoptable due to health status or dangerous behavior. In some cases, euthanasia may be the most humane decision to prevent further animal suffering. The Anti-Cruelty Society strongly supports and only uses the most humane methods of euthanasia available for the intended species.

Animal Research

The Anti-Cruelty Society believes the use of animals for research should be permitted only when there are no known feasible alternatives. Research should be limited to the smallest number of animals of the most suitable species, and the animals should be maintained in sanitary conditions and cared for in a humane manner in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act, the Health Research Extension Act, and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

Dogs Used for Sport

The Society remains a strong opponent of dog (and all animal) fighting, and we support law enforcement and prosecutorial activities intended to reduce this widespread inhumane practice.

The Anti-Cruelty Society opposes dog racing because of cruel training methods, the large scale breeding of unwanted dogs required to produce a winner, and because this so-called sport is an inhumane and unjustified exploitation of animals for profit. The Society supports groups that rescue dogs from a life of racing.

Dangerous Dogs and Breed Specific Legislation

The Anti-Cruelty Society supports legislation designed to protect the public from all dangerous dogs, regardless of breed. Breed specific legislation fails to address the problem of attacks by dogs other than the proscribed breed or breeds and the problem of irresponsible owners of those breeds.

Exotic Animals as Pets

The Anti-Cruelty Society believes wild and exotic animals make unsuitable pets and most people are not equipped to properly maintain such animals in a home environment. These animals should be placed with a licensed rehabilitation facility or wildlife sanctuary for care or eventual reintroduction. 

Pet Stores

The Anti-Cruelty Society is strongly opposed to the sale of companion animals through pet stores and similar outlets (i.e. puppy mills, internet, and indiscriminate breeders) and encourages pet stores to offer homeless animals for adoption. Investigations have exposed cruel and inhumane conditions in many such establishments; including over-crowding, filth, inadequate shelter, and lack of food, water, and veterinary care.

The Anti-Cruelty Society supports work being done to enforce licensing and operational requirements of the federal Animal Welfare Act, which would abolish “puppy mills” as they are now.


Local, state, and national sponsorship of specific legislation or support and participation on issues shall be reviewed by the Board of Directors as these issues arise. The extent of commitment and resources made available (e.g. financial, oral, and/or written testimony) shall be at the discretion of the Board of Directors.


The Anti-Cruelty Society strongly encourages owner education prior to consideration of declawing. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, onychectomy (declawing) is an amputation and should be regarded as a major surgery. The decision to declaw a cat should be made by the owners in consultation with their veterinarian and should only be considered after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when having claws presents a higher than normal health risk to the owner.

Cosmetic Surgery

The Anti-Cruelty Society opposes surgery such as ear cropping and tail docking of dogs when performed solely for cosmetic purposes. The Society supports the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards.

Mandatory Spay/Neuter

The Anti-Cruelty Society strongly supports sterilization of pets. We believe that a mandatory ordinance does not address the core problem of dog and cat homelessness, which stems from irresponsible pet ownership. Public education and incentives to spay and neuter pets are the most effective and proven means to reducing the number of unwanted pets and making a long-term effect by changing people’s attitudes and actions.

Feral Cats

The Anti-Cruelty Society encourages and supports actions to minimize the problem of free-roaming abandoned and feral cats. Cook County allows the establishment of managed feral cat colonies if they are registered with a sponsor approved by Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control. The Society supports these legal efforts and provides traps, sterilization and vaccinations at low cost, and public education to reduce the number of cats abandoned, allowed outside unsupervised, and the number of kittens being born.

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