The weather patterns being what they are, it looks like it’s going to be another long, hot, dry summer. That said, it’s important to remember that while you and I can get hot, animals can get even hotter. Even with the shedding of their “winter coats,” dogs can still easily overheat, because they can’t sweat – and panting can only go so far.
If you’re out and about this summer and you decide to take your furry friends with you, think twice before leaving them in the car. Even if you’re “just running inside for a second,” it doesn’t take long for the interior of cars to get very hot and uncomfortable. In conditions like that, animals can overheat very quickly.
You’ve probably seen news stories or read articles about animal lovers who bash out car windows when they discover animals inside. It’s happened several times in the past, and will likely continue to happen well into the future. The act of smashing a complete stranger’s windows may seem like overreacting; and to some it is. Some folks may or may not take a tire iron to the back window of your Benz when they see your pet panting in the back seat; but they will also quickly call in law enforcement to the rescue.
You see, leaving an animal in an unattended vehicle is illegal in the State of California, and is covered under 597.7 PC. To be clear, simply leaving an animal in an unattended vehicle is not in and of itself illegal, it depends on whether or not the animal’s welfare is in danger by being left in the car. If it’s cooler outside, with a light breeze, and the windows are open to provide ventilation, then they may be fine for just a few minutes. But when the temperature is higher, the windows are closed, or the animal appears to be uncomfortable or suffering, then there will be a problem, and it could mean a huge legal one for you
Convictions of violating 597.7 PC can carry an array of penalties and circumstances under which they can/will be applied. For a first conviction, an individual can be fined $100 per animal, as long as none of the animals left in an unattended vehicle suffered great bodily injury. If the animal does suffer great bodily injury (and it’s still the defendant’s first conviction), then the defendant may face a fine of $500 and a possible six-month stay in county jail. For second convictions, the $500 fine and six-month stay in jail is the penalty he or she will possibly face, regardless of whether or not there was any injury to the animal.
Lastly, leaving an animal unattended in a car can sometimes be seen as an act of neglect, which could bring charges of violating California Penal Code 597 PC, animal neglect. If convicted of this, the defendant can face up to three years in state prison. It’s just not worth the risk, to you or to them.