Legislation has been introduced in the Michigan Senate that would make it illegal to leave a dog in a vehicle if the conditions are considered unsafe, such as in hot weather. Punishment for those causing an animal’s death would be up to five years in prison.
Under Senate bills 930 and 931, leaving or confining an animal in an unattended motor vehicle in conditions that endanger its health -- such as heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water, or other circumstances that may cause suffering, disability, or death -- would be a misdemeanor, with a first-offense maximum jail sentence of 45 days, a fine of no more than $350, or both.
If the animal suffers serious physical harm, the maximum jail sentence is one year and the fine increases to $1,000.
Should the animal die, the individual responsible will be charged with a felony and serve a sentence of no more than five years and/or pay a fine of $5,000.
"We just think in situations where there is obvious potential harm that we shouldn't be allowing that in Michigan," Democratic State Sen. Curtis Hertel, who introduced the legislation, told MLive.
Previously, the maximum sentence for animal cruelty wherein a dog dies in a hot car was up to a $2,000 fine and a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
"I believe that we as a human race should be concerned about animal abuse. Animal abusers many times graduate to people abusers," Republican State Sen. Rick Jones said.
The bills have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review.