Is It Legal to Leave a Pet Alone in a Cold Car?
Every time summer rolls around, you begin to see articles all over about the dangers of leaving pets and children unattended in vehicles. In the hot weather, the temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly become unbearable and even deadly. Some people still fail to recognize this fact.
On the other side of the coin, is the act of leaving pets alone in cars in cold weather. Being exposed to cold temperatures can be just as dangerous and deadly as being exposed to hot temperatures. This is why experts warn against leaving animals unattended in cars in cold weather too.
Cold Weather Is Dangerous Too
In hot weather, the inside temperatures in a car can drastically increase to dangerous levels. However, unlike with hot weather, cold temperatures inside a car cannot drastically decrease. Still this doesn’t mean they can’t be dangerous. In cold weather, car temperatures will simply lower until they match outside temperatures, which can be below freezing. It is these kinds of conditions that pet owners need to consider.
On cold days, there can be different factors that play into how warm or cold the interior of a car can become. If the weather is cold, but the sun is out, the interior temperatures can be comfortable. In some cases, they could even become dangerous for animals. However, if the weather is overcast and it is raining or snowing, then the interior of the car will likely become too cold for anyone, even pets.
Another aspect to consider is that even though most pets have fur, this does not make it impossible for them to get cold. Fur is essentially a permanent jacket that animals have to wear. It makes them more resistant to the cold, but it does eventually get too cold for them just like how even with a jacket, cold weather can become too much to deal with for people.
On top of this is the fact that not all fur is the same. Some fur is better suited for cold weather, like the fur on huskies. Meanwhile, other breeds of dogs like Chihuahuas are more suited for warmer environments.
Essentially, a pet owner needs to be aware of both the weather outside and what their pet can handle. If they don’t, they could end up risking their pet’s health and safety. Here in California, that can get a person into some trouble.
Penal Code 597.7
Here in California, Penal Code (PC) 597.7 makes it a crime for a person to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle if doing so threatens the health or safety of the animal. While this law is primarily concerned with leaving animals in hot cars, it also applies to animals left in cold cars as well. This is due to the fact that it refers to leaving animals in conditions that could cause harm.
If a person is convicted of this crime, they will face the following depending on the circumstances. If it is a first time offense and no animal suffered any great bodily injuries, then the person faces a fine of $100 per animal. If an animal did suffer a great bodily injury, then the person faces a fine up to $500 and a jail sentence of 6 months.
Any subsequent offenses of this crime results in a $500 fine and a 6 month jail stay regardless of whether or not any animals suffered any great bodily injuries.
In addition, a person needs to consider that here in California, law enforcement officers who see an animal suffering in a vehicle are allowed to do whatever they need to in order to rescue the animal. This means that on top of the fines and jail time, the person could be looking at some repair bills as well.
Leave the Critter at Home
Most pet owners adore and cherish their furry companions. That is why they are often brought everywhere. Unfortunately, leaving pets alone in cars isn’t always safe. Pet owners need to be aware of the weather, whether it is too hot or too cold, before leaving a pet alone. As much as the animal may be loved, sometimes it is best for it to be left at home in a more climate controlled environment.
What do you think of California’s law on leaving pets unattended in cars? Did you realize that it applied to both hot and cold conditions? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.