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Can I go to Jail For Leaving my Dog in my Car in Michigan? That Depends…

If you love your furry family members, then be extra careful on very hot and very cold days!

If you own a dog here in Michigan that’s not a working animal, such as a therapy dog, or seeing-eye dog, then you already know there are very few places you can take your pet into. Restaurants, grocery stores, shopping malls, and stores all have policies in place about not allowing pets onto the premises. That means: if you take your dog out and about with you, as many dedicated pet owners do, then you know your dog is probably going to be spending some time in your vehicle while you run errands. And if that’s the case, then this article is for you!

Let’s start with the basics: Animal abuse is illegal in Michigan. Obviously this includes the mutilation, killing, torture and general abuse of animals, but it also refers to neglect. Michigan law makes it illegal to abandon animals or neglect them by not giving them enough food, water, shelter, sanitary conditions, exercise, and veterinary care to maintain good health. What matters in this case is the “shelter” portion of that law.

A car doesn’t count as a shelter during extreme weather!

If you’re out running errands and it’s a balmy, 64 degree spring day with sunshine and a light breeze, a dog in a car with open windows would be fine. But on a freezing winter day, with the temperature well below zero, or on a boiling summer day when the temps are in the upper 80s (both of which are common here in Michigan), that becomes very dangerous for an animal! Lansing, Bay City, Mount Pleasant and Grand Rapids all have very hot summer temps on average!

The normal range for a dog’s body temperature is 101 to 102.5 F. If a dog’s temperature drops between 97.6 and 99.6 F, this is considered dangerous and medical attention is necessary. So leaving a dog in a car on a freezing day could result in neglect charges. And the same goes for a dog in a car on a hot day.

Hundreds of dogs die in hot cars every year!

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), hundreds of pets who are left in cars, die as a result of heat exhaustion every year. While it’s 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 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.”

Be careful with your pets and make the right choice – for both of you!

As we head into summer, we know there are lots of pet owners all over Michigan who are going to be on the road with their dogs. We get it – we love our furry family members as well! So please make smart choices when the days are hot and leave your dogs at home. If however, you hit the road with a pet and the temp climbs higher than you anticipated, be sure to leave the windows all the way open!

However, in the event of unforeseen tragedy, and someone reports you to the police, make sure you have a legal team on your side who understands the gravity of your situation. Here at The Kronzek Firm, our experienced criminal defense attorneys have spent decades helping people from all over Michigan’s lower peninsula. So whether you live in Lansing, Howell, Jackson, Livingston County or Battle Creek, we can help. Call 866 766 5245 today and make sure your rights are protected!

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