States with laws that protect dogs in hot cars
Same as humans, dogs should not be left alone inside a parked and closed vehicle in a warm and hot sunny day as the rising temperature inside the car may result to heatstroke and death to the animal.
At least 26 states of the U.S. are now implementing laws that penalize pet owners and guardians who put the lives of their animals in danger by leaving them inside hot cars. These states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Majority of these states only allow the rescue efforts to be performed by authorities, animal control, firefighters, first responders or humane officers while eight states allow any person to rescue animals that are left under extreme conditions, which may involve forcibly entering the vehicle to remove the trapped animal.
Of these eight states, six provide civil immunity to civilian rescuers from being sued by pet owners. One of these states, Indiana, requires that the person will pay half of the damages incurred when opening the vehicle.
The penalties for erring pet owners and guardians vary from state to state.
Of the 26 states, only West Virginia and New Jersey criminalize the act of leaving a pet under dangerous conditions without providing a rescue and immunity provision.
West Virginia convicts pet owners and guardians guilty of a misdemeanor, will pay a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $2,000, jail term of not more than six months, or both.
In New Jersey, the crime constitutes cruelty with penalty of not less than $250 nor more than $1,000.
Arizona only gives a penalty of Class 1 misdemeanor while in California, a fine of not exceeding $100 per animal is imposed for first conviction and if the animal suffers great bodily injury, the offender may pay a fine of not more than $500, jail term of not exceeding six months or both. Subsequent violations, regardless of injury to the animal, is punishable by a fine not exceeding $500, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or both.
The state of Delaware only issues a warning for the first offense and Class A misdemeanors for subsequent offenses while in Illinois, the offender will be charged guilty of a Class C misdemeanor and Class B misdemeanor for second or subsequent violations.
In Maine, no penalty is imposed on pet owners but they have to pay all charges accrued for the maintenance, care, medical treatment and impoundment of the animal.
Minnesota only requires convicted pet owners to pay a fine of $25 while Rhode Island and Vermont impose much heavier penalty of imprisonment not exceeding one year or fine of no more than $1,000 and $2,000, respectively, or both.
Leaving your dog inside a hot car is one form of animal cruelty and no amount of excuses can erase the fact that the animal’s life is put in danger because of your carelessness. Next time, just leave your dog inside the comforts of your home.