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City needs law to keep pets safe

January 2, 2019 12:19 am

Leaving a pet in a boiling-hot car for even a short period of time can mean death for the animal, so it isn’t rocket science that doing this is bad.

So, it’s amazing yet appropriate that a Hudson city law creating tougher penalties for leaving pets in extremely hot or cold vehicles had to be drafted. And when city leaders say tougher, they mean it.

The Common Council agreed fines are too low for pet owners convicted of confining their animals to vehicles in extreme temperatures. The law would amend the city code to include stricter penalties. A public hearing on the proposed law will be held 4 p.m. Jan. 7 at Common Council Chambers in City Hall, 520 Warren St.

At the very least, the law can help raise awareness that animals cannot be left in a vehicle in extreme temperature conditions. The law extends to leaving animals in extremely cold vehicles.

The city does not have a law on the books to fine residents who leave their pets in vehicles in extreme cold or hot temperatures, and that is possibly because the Common Council thought it wouldn’t be necessary. That is about to change.

State Agriculture & Markets Law levies fines of $50 to $100 against first-time offenders. The city law would be similar to the state law, but the fine would be quintupled. The fine would be raised to not less than $250 or up to $500 for the first offense and from $500 to $1,000 for the second offense.

Officials started discussing a tougher law after a Hunter man allegedly left his dog in a hot car Aug. 27 on the upper level of the Columbia Memorial Health parking garage.

Hudson police responded to a call from a person who saw the dog in the truck. The upper level of the parking garage has no cover or roof. The dog started behaving erratically in the vehicle, Hudson police said.

Hospital security paged the dog’s owner, who was inside the hospital. The man got to his truck just as a police officer was unlocking it. The dog had been left in the truck for about an hour, according to police. The dog’s owner was issued a ticket under the Agriculture & Markets Law.

The outside temperature was 90 degrees, police said. At an exterior temperature of 90 degrees, the estimated air temperature inside the vehicle could have reached 133 degrees in an hour, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Hudson police have responded to more than 40 similar calls reporting dogs left in extremely hot or cold vehicles since the summer of 2017, Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore said.

To us, that’s 40 calls too many. People are supposed to love their pets and not carelessly or thoughtlessly leave them to roast in vehicles where the mercury can exceed even the 133-degree mark when summer heat and humidity send temperatures soaring over 100. The Hudson law is about to be enacted, and it’s a wise choice that holds inept pet owners accountable.