Cracking down on pet owners who leave animals in cars during extreme weather conditions

BRUNSWICK, Ohio-- A proposed new law would crack down on pet owners who leave their animals inside cars on extremely hot or cold days without taking appropriate precautions.

The ordinance creates misdemeanors for first time and multiple offenders, the most serious of which could be charged if the animal is harmed.

Read the entire ordinance

The law would allow for pets to be inside enclosed cars for no more than five minutes during times when a heat or cold advisory has been issued.

Councilman Nick Hanek tells Fox 8 News, he was surprised to learn that very few other communities have such an ordinance which, he explained, resulted from a separate law council is considering about tethering pets outdoors in extreme conditions.

"I was working on the tethering ordinance and we brought in our animal control officer and said, 'is there something else that we can do to make your job easier, make your job better?'" said Hanek.

Medina County Humane Officer Mari Beth Flowers considers the proposed law something that is long overdue.

"I have actually been involved in humane investigations in two different counties so I have seen many cases. I get called when the winter is very cold and in the summertime when it's really hot," said Flowers.

"Brunswick is very family-oriented. Pets are a part of the family and very important. People will call in this frequently. This is not something that will go unnoticed," explained Hanek, adding, "we really didn't have the ability to properly cite for what this concern is. There wasn't a provision in the law where we could go there."

Hanek says the proposed law would give authorities the flexibility to either use the citation or Goddard's Law in the most extreme conditions.

Under the proposed ordinance, 'On any offense, if the animal was injured, a misdemeanor of the first degree' could be charged.

Under Goddard's Law any intentional act of animal cruelty could be charged as a felony.

The proposed ordinance would allow for pet owners who are taking precautions, including using climate control, such as air conditioning, or taking other precautions.

"If a window were cracked, proper water, and you took precautions using common sense that the animal would be safe for a period of time, it's probably not going to apply here," explained Hanek.

The proposed ordinance will have to go through three readings in council before it can become law.

The first reading is expected to be this Monday.