SACRAMENTO — People who endanger their pets by leaving them in cars could face up to six months in jail under legislation approved Monday by the state Assembly.
The measure would bar people from leaving or confining an animal in an unattended motor vehicle with conditions that could lead to suffering, injury or death. Those conditions could include lack of ventilation, extreme hot or cold weather or an absence of food or water.
First offenders could be fined up to $100 if the animal is unharmed, and as much as $500 and half a year in county jail if the pet incurs "great bodily injury." Repeat violators would face the more stringent punishment regardless of whether an animal was hurt.
The legislation notes that even when vehicle windows are left slightly open, a car's interior can heat to as much as 102 degrees within 10 minutes on an 85-degree day. Even a dog in good health can only withstand a body temperature of 107 or 108 degrees for a brief period before suffering brain damage or death, the legislation states.
The bill would allow a police officer, humane officer or animal control officer to remove an animal from a vehicle if they believe it is at risk. It would then be taken to a shelter or veterinary hospital, and the owner could not reclaim it until after paying all costs associated with its care.
The measure, SB 1806, sponsored by state Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), passed the Assembly, 58 to 5. It previously was approved by the Senate, 31 to 3. Before being sent to the governor, the measure will return to the Senate for final approval of amendments added by the Assembly.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on the bill.