Leaving your dog in a hot car may become a felony in Michigan

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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan lawmakers are pushing legislation to crack down on pet owners leaving animals in dangerous conditions.

While 18 other states currently have laws that make it illegal to keep an animal in a vehicle that may endanger its “health or well-being,” Michigan is taking an even bigger step by classifying the act as a felony, according to Michigan news site MLive.

An animal left in a dangerous situation could result in a $350 fine or 90 days in jail for first-time offenders; a $500 fine or 3 months in prison for second offenses. If the animal is injured, pet owners could face a year in prison or a $1,000 fine.

An animal’s death inside a car carries a sentence of up to 5 years in prison, or a fine of up to $5,000, which is among the nation’s strictest penalties.

Many states have laws on the books against leaving a pet in a car in extreme heat or cold, but most are misdemeanors.

Neither Missouri nor Kansas have a law specifically against subjecting an animal to dangerous conditions inside a parked car.

A veterinarian posted a video in 2012 in which he subjected himself to the conditions an animal faces inside a car with the windows rolled up on a hot day. The results were shocking.

Although videos like this and other efforts have greatly increased public awareness for this issue, the problem persists.

A police dog died in October 2015 when an officer left him in his hot squad car for 10 hours. A grand jury decided not to indict the officer.

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