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Leaving a Dog in a Hot Car Now Illegal in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee recently signed a bill making it illegal to leave pets in a hot car.

It's now illegal in Rhode Island to leave a dog in a sweltering vehicle. File photo.
It's now illegal in Rhode Island to leave a dog in a sweltering vehicle. File photo.
by Jason Claffey

A new law makes it illegal to leave a pet in a sweltering vehicle in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee recently signed the legislation, which gives police officers, animal control officers, and firefighters the authority to free animals "by any reasonable means necessary." Violators will be charged with a misdemeanor.

PETA supports the legislation, which was introduced in the Senate by Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio and in the House by State Rep. Marvin Abney.

"Trapped in a steaming car with only hot air to breathe, dogs can suffer heatstroke in just 15 minutes, resulting in brain damage or death," said PETA's Lindsay Pollard-Post in a statement. "When temperatures warm up, no amount of time in a parked car is safe for dogs."

The law also makes it illegal to leave an animal in a car when it's freezing.

The law stipulates that it's illegal "for any person to confine any animal in a motor vehicle which places the animal in a life threatening or extreme health threatening situation by exposing the animal to a prolonged period of extreme heat or cold, without proper ventilation or other protection from the extreme temperature."
Richard Johnson July 07, 2014 at 10:13 PM
This is great news. Now if they can prevent the probate courts from stealing the assets of the helpless elderly we can be treated as good as the animals.
Diana July 08, 2014 at 10:55 AM
Igor, I don't agree with your opinions on a lot of things, but on this you are correct. There are many breeds of dogs that are bred to be in zero degree temps all day long. And it doesn't bother them one little bit - it is not inhumane or abuse. But other dogs cannot handle the cold - like a small Chihuahua - it would freeze to death in a short time. Dogs are not all created equal and any laws regarding animals in hot/cold cars need to be assessed on a case by case basis depending on the breed of dog, the actual temps in the car and other evidence such as - how long the dog was actually left in the car, is the dog actually physically distressed due to temps, and does the dog have a blanket or etc. Heat is much more dangerous than cold though, for any breed. But again, some can tolerate higher temps easier than others. You are also correct tha pugs, bulldogs and the like do have compromised airways. At 36 degrees (Fahrenheit) , your dogs were fine. Non-dog people also tend to not realize that dogs pant for many reasons other than just being hot. Sometimes it is to expel body heat (they don't sweat) - sometimes because they are excited, sometimes when they may be in pain..... sometimes it's a medical condition .... lots of reasons. If what you say is true, the complaint was unwarranted and should have been dismissed.
citizen July 08, 2014 at 10:56 AM
Sweltering defined as "Uncomfortably Hot" so, please ask your dog if it's comfortable before you leave.
Igor July 08, 2014 at 11:11 AM
The facts are exactly as I stated them. Diana I love my dogs, I would never hurt them. Yes it was a pain in the butt and a little embarrassing to have the police there. But I am thankful that someone was concerned enough spend the time and effort to look into it.

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