Animal rights have always been a rather polarizing subject. Some people believe that animals should have the same rights and protections as people, while others believe that they are less intrinsically valuable than humans and shouldn’t be afforded the same rights. Either way, whatever your beliefs, it will be interesting to see whether or not this piece of proposed legislation is met with open arms or not.
Lawmakers in the Michigan Senate are pushing for legislation that would make leaving your dog in your car during certain weather conditions a felony. The bills were introduced by Republican Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge and Democratic Senator Curtis Hertel of Lansing. They are hoping to add Michigan to the list of 19 states around the nation with pet-protection laws already in place.
First time offenders faced with misdemeanor charges
Under the proposed legislation, anyone who leaves an animal inside a vehicle during conditions that could lead to injury or death would be faced with misdemeanor charges. A first time offender caught leaving their pet in their vehicle during very hot or very cold weather would be subject to a $350 fine and a month in jail. Second time offenders would pay a $500 fine and spent up to three months in jail. But if the pet in question is harmed by the extreme temperatures, or even killed, it’s a game-changer.
If the animal is injured, the person who left them in the vehicle would be charged with a felony, and be fined up to $1,000. In the event that the animal in question dies, the person who left them in a car would face up to five years in prison and fines of $5,000.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), hundred of pets who are left in cars, die as a result of heat exhaustion every year. While this is usually dogs, people have been known to shut cats, birds and even rodents into their vehicles on hot days. Apparently leaving the windows cracked has very little effect on the internal temperature of a vehicle.
Statistics reveal that the internal temperature of a closed car can rise 20 degrees in just ten minutes on a hot day. In 60 minutes, that figure rises to 40 degrees. A spokesperson for the AVMA has called it a perfect example of a “love ’em and leave ’em,” situation. Leave them at home, that is, not in the car. “Please leave your pets at home at home when you can…they’ll be safe and happily waiting for you to come home.”
The two bills were recently introduced, and have moved to the Judiciary Committee for consideration. They still have a long way to go before becoming a Michigan criminal law. If you would like a closer look at SB 0930 and 0931, we invite you to read the exact terms and conditions. They are very informative, for both pet owners and animal lovers alike.