Leaving A Dog In A Hot Car In Michigan Can Lead To More Jail Time

Proposed law would increase jail time for animal cruelty to up to five years.

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Two Michigan lawmakers have introduced legislation under which felony charges could be brought against someone who causes an animal by leaving it in a car. Via M C Morgan/Flickr
John Virata

If you live in Michigan and leave your dog (or any animal) in your car on a hot day or during inclement weather, and your dog dies, you may soon be faced with a felony and up to five years in jail if you are caught.

Two Michigan state senators, Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-Lansing, have introduced two bills that are written to discourage the practice, changing the potential penalty from one year to up to five years in jail, according to a report from Mlive.com.

Under the proposed bills, if a dog dies because it was left in a hot car or during inclement weather, according to the report, the person who left the dog could face felony charges and up to five years in jail. If the dog is found in a hot car and is suffering, the person responsible could be fined $350 and/or up to 45 days in jail, and if the dog is seriously injured, the person responsible could face a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

It can get very hot for a dog very quickly in a car on a hot day. Via Rusty Clark/Flickr

It can get very hot for a dog very quickly in a car on a hot day. Via Rusty Clark/Flickr

“We just think in situations where there is obvious potential harm that we shouldn’t be allowing that in Michigan,” Hertel told Mlive.com.

Some of the language in Hertel’s bill says that a person can’t “Leave or confine an animal in an unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of the animal, including, but 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.”

According to the ASPCA, when the temperature outside is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, 10 minutes is all it takes for the inside temperature of a car to reach 102 degrees Fahrenheit, even with windows slightly open. When it is 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside, inside car temperatures can be up to 20 degrees hotter.

The bills, SB 930 and SB 931, are currently under review with Michigan’s Senate Judiciary Committee.

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