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Leaving a Dog in a Hot Car Can Get You Arrested

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

The arrival of hot weather once again has law enforcement and animal-welfare groups trying to take a bite out of one of summer's most heartbreaking crimes: leaving a dog in a hot car.

Leaving your dog locked up in your car, even just during a short shopping trip, can not only be fatal to your dog, but it can also get you arrested.

How can you practice summer safety with your dogs or other animals, and what can happen if you don't?

  • Know someone who's been arrested or charged with a crime? Get in touch with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your area today.

Felony Animal Cruelty

As reported by San Francisco's KPIX-TV, a 50-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty by police in Belmont, California, after witnesses reported a dog locked in a truck at a local motel.

The dog, which had no access to water, died before it reached the vet, and the dog's owner -- who was sleeping inside the vehicle -- was arrested.

Under the California Penal Code, anyone who "overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, cruelly beats, mutilates, or cruelly kills any animal" can be charged with a felony. If convicted, the dog's owner could face up to three years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Summer Safety for Pets

According to the Humane Society of the United States, even on a relatively moderate 85-degree day, a car with its windows cracked will reach an internal temperature of 120 degrees within 30 minutes. For a pet, any time spent in these temperatures can cause irreversible organ damage and even death.

Dogs and other pets should have an area with shade and an unrestricted airflow during the day, as well as plenty of water. The Humane Society recommends keeping your pets' water cold by putting ice cubes in it when possible. After all, it works for you, so why not for your dog?

The Humane Society also warns that certain breeds of cats and dogs with short muzzles are at a higher risk for heat stroke because they have a harder time breathing. Likewise for very young or very old animals, animals not used to prolonged exercise or animals that may be overweight.

You should treat your pet like your child -- who, by the way, shouldn't be left in a hot car either.

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