United StatesIllinois

Reminder: Leaving a dog in a hot car can lead to a year in prison

Breaking into a car to save a dog is also illegal

Tommy Liggett | Shutterstock.com

(The Center Square) – Leaving your dog in a hot car in Illinois can land you in jail for up to a year. Breaking into someone else’s car to save a dog can also get you arrested.

As of 2016, it’s a class A misdemeanor to expose a pet to either extreme heat or cold inside of a vehicle. A class A misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to one year in jail or a $2,500 fine.

The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association offers some tips for people who must travel with their animals this summer.

“We encourage pet owners to only travel with their pets when it’s hot out only if absolutely necessary,” Dr. Olivia Rudolphi, president of ISVMA, said. “Sure, it’s always nice to take the pup out for a drive to get them out of the house. But if you leave him or her in the car, even for a short period of time with windows cracked, it’s just not enough for the rising heat to escape from the vehicle.”

Other recommendations from ISVMA:

  • When you’re on a road trip with a pet, prepare to make sure they can stay hydrated. Ensure there is plenty of cool water and that they have seating or riding options that can keep them out of the direct sun.

  • Create safety boundaries: Keep your dog or cat away from your driving space in the car. It’s never a good idea to let animals rest on your lap, to lay in a foot well or hang out windows, actions that could cause an accident. Know that it is against the law in Illinois to have a pet in the driver’s seat while the car is in motion.

  • Don’t play with or feed your pet while driving. Distractions can cause interference with your ability to react to any driving condition.

  • When stopped for a break, avoid letting your pet walk on hot surfaces, such as blacktop or concrete parking lots or sidewalks that can burn his or her paws.

  • Talk with your veterinarian about hot weather tips and how to keep your pet safe from heat exposure/exhaustion. It’s extremely important to know how to recognize the symptoms of heat stress and what first aid you may administer if your pet becomes stressed.

Although the state came close to a “good Samaritan” law that would absolve a person of liability for breaking into a car to rescue an animal in 2018, the measure stalled.

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