What is California Penal Code 597.7 PC - Leaving a Pet Unattended in a Vehicle?
California Penal Code 597.7 PC prohibits leaving an animal unattended in a vehicle if the conditions endanger its health or well-being. This is usually considered an infraction which is punishable by a $100 fine; however, it can lead to misdemeanor charges and jail time if the animal suffers great bodily injury.
597.7 PC reads that “A person shall not leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal…”
What Happens to a Dog When it is Left in the Car?
Dogs have a harder time adjusting to heat than humans, so being stuck in a hot car can become a life-threatening situation in a matter of minutes. When the temperature gets hotter, dogs try to cool themselves off by panting, and their anxiety levels rise as a result of their discomfort.
What to Do if Your Dog is Overheating
- Move the dog to a shaded area.
- Keep them calm and still.
- Put them on top of a cool wet towel or place them in front of a fan.
- Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
- Pour cool water over the dog's feet, ears, and head.
What to do if You See a Dog Left Unattended in Extreme Temperatures
If it's extremely hot or cold outside and you see a dog left alone in a vehicle, you should first peek in to check on the well-being of the dog. If they seem okay, call animal control or dial 9-1-1 if you feel that the dog is in danger. Although some states allow civilians to break into cars if a pet's life is at risk, this should only be done in extreme cases.
Is it Ever Safe to Leave Your Dog in the Car?
It is usually okay to leave your dog in the car for a few minutes when the outside temperature is above freezing and below 70 degrees.
Other tips to safely leave your dog in the car include:
- During daylight hours, crack a window and park in the shade.
- Be sure to get back to your vehicle quickly. A 5-minute errand can easily turn deadly for your dog if you become distracted from returning to your car immediately.
- If you have a passenger in the car with you, have them stay with the dog and keep the heat or air conditioner running.
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