In 2017, there really is no excuse for pet owners to be ignorant of the dangers of leaving an animal in a hot car. And since we love animals around here, we were really happy to hear about a new law in Nevada that will help keep pets safe. Local television news station KSNV is reporting that Nevada state Senate bill 409 passed during its last legislative session. This bill would criminalize the act of leaving an animal locked car during hot weather. It is already a crime to do the same to a child in Nevada.
If convicted, a person would face up to six months in jail or a one thousand dollar fine.
Leaving either a pet or a child in a locked car is just about the most stupid thing a person can do. There have been so many well publicized tragedies that certainly no one can claim ignorance of the hazards in this day and age.
If Senate bill 409 passes the house it will be sent to the governor’s office to be signed into law. Currently only twenty three states have laws to protect animals left in locked cars. The states that have these laws include Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Many of these states classify such crimes as class “A” misdemeanors that carry penalties including fines and/or incarceration. The laws also indemnify first responders or civilian rescuers who must damage vehicles to extrecate animals from dangerous situations.
While some states specify cats and dogs, others list domestic animals, and some go so far as to say any vertebrate besides humans or livestock.
These laws have been drafted and passed in both blue and red states, which demonstrates the near universal acceptance of the idea that animals should be protected under the law as humans.
Still, while this is a major success for the state of Nevada, there are plenty of other animal rights issues that many states avoid, including the legality of so called “puppy mills,” the care of stray animals and the use of kill shelters, and veterinary malpractice laws.
For people interested in the legal rights of animals and pet owners in the various states, there are a number of resources including Michigan State University’s Animal Legal Center, The Animal Legal Defense Fund, The American Kennel Club, The Humane Society of The United States, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Each of these organizations and institutions work diligently to protect those who have no voice of their own, to help ensure the safety and proper care of animals, and to raise public awareness of legal and ethical issues that need addressing. Some specialize in domesticated pets, while others work to create protections for livestock and laboratory animals as well.
Have you ever helped rescue an animal in distress? Do you support your local animal welfare organizations? Have we done enough to protect our fur babies? Please share your thoughts and stories with us here.