LOS ANGELES — Leaving a pet in a hot vehicle could not only lead to the animal’s death but also leave the perpetrator facing an animal cruelty charge, Los Angeles officials warned July 18.
“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.
“The facts are so clear: It takes just 15 minutes for an animal to suffer brain damage when temperatures soar on a hot summer day in a parked vehicle,” he said. “Cracking a window open doesn’t do nearly enough to cool your car down sufficiently. This isn’t only a health and safety issue for your pet, it’s a legal issue, too.
“Leaving your companion animal in a parked car in the heat of the day is against the law, and can lead to serious animal cruelty charges, fines, even jail.”
Feuer was joined by Bob Barker, the former host of the TV game show “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.
A state law that went into effect in January allows people to legally break into a parked vehicle to help an animal that appears to be in danger if they call law enforcement first.
A conviction for leaving an animal unattended in a car could result in a fine and infraction conviction for a first-time offender if there is no great bodily injury to the pet, or a misdemeanor punishment and possible jail time for repeat offenders or first-timers where there is great bodily injury involved, Feuer’s office said.
“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.”