Leaving Pets in Car Could Lead to Felony under New Bill

Leaving your pet in a hot car in Michigan could soon get you in a lot of trouble. 

The State Senate Judiciary Committee is looking at a pair of bills introduced this week, which could mean a felony charge in certain circumstances.

Right now, if your pet dies because it was left in the car, you’re looking at a one year misdemeanor.

But this bill would significantly increase that penalty.

“Even a 70 degree day can make a vehicle over 100 degrees inside,” said Michigan State Police Sergeant Shawn Wise.

With conditions like that, it doesn’t take long for an animal to get very sick. Something pet owners need to think about.

“Last year we had a lot of animals come in, that the police control and animal control brought in because it was too hot in the car,” said Cherryland Humane Society Director Heidi Yates.

The Cherryland Humane Society in Traverse City races these animals to the vet, and sometimes they don’t make it.

Right now, those people are already punished for that.

“Currently right now it would be a neglect charge. It would be a 93-day misdemeanor if the animal were injured. If there was an animal that were to actually die or expire, it jumps up to a one year misdemeanor,” Wise said.

It becomes a felony charge if there are 10 or more animals involved.

Bills introduced into the Michigan Senate this week would make it a felony with just one animal.

“It would become a felony if you were to leave your animal in a vehicle and that animal were to die.”

That means a five-year prison sentence or 5,000 dollar fine.

If the animal survives, pet owners would be charged 350 dollars or spend 45 days in jail for the first offense.

Certainly an avoidable situation.

“You really need to monitor through the day. And sometimes it’s too hot for the animals to be in the car. And you know, the animals will understand,” Yates said.

The bills are currently in review in the State Senate Judiciary Committee.