Hot cars, pets do not mix

Published 9:51 am Thursday, May 26, 2016

Continuing from last week’s article about kids left in hot cars, I wish to discuss leaving pets in a hot car because doing this in Michigan could soon get you in a lot of trouble.

The State Senate Judiciary Committee is looking at a pair of bills introduced this week, which could mean a felony charge in certain circumstances. Right now, if your pet dies because it was left in the car, you are looking at a one-year misdemeanor. But this bill would significantly increase that penalty.

“Even a 70 degree day can make a vehicle over 100 degrees inside,” said Michigan State Police Niles Post Commander Michael Dawson. “With conditions like that, it doesn’t take long for an animal to get very sick. Something pet owners need to think about.”

Last year, many animals were taken to Humane Society or vet clinics by the police or animal control because they were left in a hot vehicle. Currently, it would be a neglect charge, a 93-day misdemeanor if the animal was injured. If the animal were to actually die or expire, it jumps up to a one-year misdemeanor. It becomes a felony charge if there are 10 or more animals involved.

Bills introduced into the Michigan Senate this week would make it a felony if just one animal were to die. That means a five-year prison sentence or $5,000 fine. If the animal survives, pet owners could be charged $350 and/or spend 45 days in jail for the first offense.

This is certainly an avoidable situation. Monitor the day. Sometimes it is too hot for the animals to be in the car.

The bills are currently in review in the State Senate Judiciary Committee.

On another note, with more miles being traveled during warmer weather, your Michigan State Police would like to remind you to “Click It Or Ticket.” You may have noticed a heavier police presence traveling Michigan highways as more than 150 police agencies across the state will be checking to make sure you are wearing a seatbelt. The Click It or Ticket Campaign is taking place from May 23 to June 5.

During the 2015 enforcement, 6,113 seat-belt and child seat citations were issued. “When we have a lot of people out there traveling, we want you to do it safely,” Dawson said.

With temperatures warming up and Memorial Day around the corner, it is a good time to be reminded the importance of wearing a seat-belt.

“It’s close to the end of the school season,” Dawson said. “So we have a lot of younger drivers getting their license and getting out there. We want them to start it off right by buckling up each and every time. Make it a life habit.”

According to Dawson, research shows that proper seatbelt use reduces the risk of being killed in an accident by 45 percent.


Rob Herbstreith is a community service trooper with the Michigan State Police Niles post. Questions or comments can be emailed to