On July 18, the House unanimously passed Senate Bill 626, which makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor to leave a pet inside a vehicle in extreme temperatures. Class 2 misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of sixty days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The legislation also allows law enforcement officers to immediately rescue the trapped pet; current law says police can only try to locate the owner of a vehicle with a pet inside.
Each year, thousands of dogs and cats suffer heatstroke, irreversible damage to vital organs, and permanent brain damage as a result of being left in parked cars; sadly, many of them die. On a warm day, the temperature in a parked car can reach over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes — even even one parked in the shade with the windows left partially open.
In simple terms, heatstroke occurs when a dog loses its natural ability to regulate its body temperature. Dogs don’t sweat all over their bodies the way humans do. Canine body temperature is primarily regulated through respiration (i.e., panting). If a dog’s respiratory tract cannot evacuate heat quickly enough, heatstroke can occur.” —from The Dog Channel’s Heatstroke Survival Guide
SB626 also makes other important changes to existing animal shelter laws that will make it easier for homeless pets to be adopted. Governor McCrory is expected to sign the bill.