Leaving your pet in the car while you run into the store or go out to eat can be dangerous, but new legislation may make this activity illegal in Michigan. If the new laws are passed, Michigan would join 16 other states in making it illegal to leave a pet in a car.

This new legislation would save pet lives but it could also prevent new challenges. Let’s take a look at this new legislation, and discuss what it means for Michigan pet owners.

The Dangers Of Leaving Your Pet In The Car

Every summer, reports stream in from all over the country of unfortunate cases of pets dying in hot, parked cars. Although we know that our readers and clients are devoted pet owners who are aware of the dangers of leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle, we feel that this is an issue that can never be discussed enough.

Temperatures in a parked vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels. Even on cooler days, or if the car is parked in the shade, or the window is cracked, or all of the above, the inside of your car can get hot enough to cause organ damage or death to a pet left inside. We see it happen every year.

The Nitty Gritty

In early May, Republican Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge and Democratic Senator Curtis Hertel of Lansing introduced bills in the senate that would make it a crime to leave an animal unattended in a car in a manner that could endanger its health or well being. Here’s the breakdown:

  • A pet found suffering, but uninjured, in car is punishable by a misdemeanor charge and a fine of $350
  • Fines jump to $1000 if the animal is injured
  • If the animal dies, the owner (or whoever left it) could face a felony charge, 5 years in prison, and/or a fine of $5000

Plan, Plan, Plan

For pet owners who frequently travel with their pets, or even just like to bring pets along while they run errands in cooler weather, this law poses a particular set of logistical challenges.

It always pays to plan ahead for your pet’s comfort and safety, whether you are preparing for a cross-country or a cross-town trip:

  • Make sure you map out as many pet-friendly pit stops as possible along your route. Parks, rest stops, and dog parks are great places to let your pet stretch his or her legs and give you a break from driving.
  • If you know you must get out of the car and won’t be able to bring your pet with you, have someone come along to stay with your pet if possible. The extra person can either wait inside the running vehicle with your pet, or get your pet out of the car to wait in a shady area until your return.
  • If your pet is in the car because of a veterinary visit, try to plan on coming straight here and back.
  • If you have errands, schedule a drop-off visit, then run your errands and pick up your pet right before heading home.
  • Pack for your pet, even for short trips. Make sure you bring plenty of fresh water (and a bowl to drink from), his or her leash, bags to clean up waste, and a pet first aid kit. Having the right supplies on hand will make it easier for you to take your pet out of the car as often as you need to.
  • When in doubt, play it safe and don’t leave your pet alone in the car.  

If you have any questions regarding pet travel safety, please don’t hesitate to give us a call here at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital.