LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Leaving a pet in a hot vehicle could kill the animal and land the offender in jail, Los Angeles officials warned Tuesday.
“We’re here today to prevent the needless tragedy of a beloved pet suffering or dying because its guardian thoughtlessly leaves their companion animal in a hot, parked car,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said during a news conference at the East Valley Animal Shelter in Van Nuys.
Feuer was joined by Bob Barker, the former host of CBS’ “The Price is Right” and a longtime animal rights activist. “Leaving a pet in a locked car is stupid or deliberately cruel, or both,” Barker said.
“It takes just 15 minutes in a hot car for an animal to suffer brain damage or worse. Cracking a window open doesn’t do nearly enough to cool your car down sufficiently,” Feuer explained. “It is against the law to leave your animal in a hot parked car, and that will lead to prosecution by our office. It could lead to fines. It could even lead to jail time.”
A state law called Right to Rescue Act, which went into effect in January, allows people to legally break into a hot parked vehicle to rescue an animal that appears to be in imminent danger if they call 911 first.
Offenders could get a fine of up to $100 and infraction conviction if there is no great bodily injury to the animal.
If the pet suffers great bodily injury, the violator could be fined up to $500 and go to jail for up to six months.
“If you are not going to be able to take your dogs in with you every time you get out of the car, make the safe choice and leave him at home,” L.A. Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette said. “A quick stop may feel like no time at all to you, but it’s too long to leave your pet in a vehicle unattended on a warm summer day. When it’s hot outside, even with the windows open, a parked car can become an oven in minutes, and endanger the life of your pet.”