Sixteen states have already banned leaving animals behind in a vehicle during extreme weather patterns. Now, Michigan is in the running to up that number to 17.
The mitten state made headlines in early spring when contaminated drinking water was deemed unsafe for both humans and pets. It then made headlines when a lost dog showed up two years later, over a thousand miles from home.
Legal issues regarding animal welfare are causing a stir in the state now. Pets and children die every year when they are locked inside a vehicle in the summer sun during a parent's errands. As average temperatures continue to shatter records, more deaths are imminent if this practice continues.
Michigan is taking a stand to nip this tragedy in the bud. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can easily be prevented if proper care and common sense are taken into account. The state is currently considering banning pet owners from leaving their companions in cars. The bill is under review after hitting the state senate last week.
Leaving animals behind would be a form of animal abuse, marked as a felony and punished with a hefty fine. The proposed law would require an owner to pay $5,000 if their pet succumbs to extreme weather conditions and dies in a closed vehicle. Alternatively, they could face up to five years in a jail cell.
Animals made ill or injured from such a situation would result in one year of owner jail-time or a $1,000 fine. Owners caught red-handed before the pet gets sick face a first-time fine of $350 and second-time fine of $500, not omitting the possibility of a trip to the slammer.
These are some of the harshest animal endangerment laws in the nation. The majority of the other states with this law already enacted classify the offense as a misdemeanor, not a felony.