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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Bills would criminalize leaving dogs in hot cars

Dog sticking its head out the window of a car
Andrew Pons
/
Unsplash

As temperatures rise, lawmakers in Lansing want to make sure people aren’t leaving their animals in their cars.

Legislation passed a state Senate committee Thursday. It would make it a crime to leave your animal in the car in harmful conditions.

That includes, but is not limited to, “heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability or death of the animal.”

If the animal dies, the punishment would be a felony with up to five years of prison time, otherwise it would be a misdemeanor.

State Senator Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, is a bill sponsor. He said across the country hundreds of dogs die every year because they were left in cars.

“Legislation like this, not just puts a penalty out there but also creates education,” he said. “I think the average person doesn’t have an understanding of how dangerous this is.”

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, it can only take 10 minutes for the inside of a car to hit temps above 100. Even if the temperature outside is in the 80s. 

“I just bought a Chevy Cruise from my biggest employer General Motors, and I noticed now when you shut the car off it warns you to check the backseat,” said bill sponsor Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “So that’s how big the problem is.”

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