New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. has introduced legislation in the New York State Assembly that would increase the penalties for confinement of a companion animal in a vehicle during times of extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Under current law the fine for a first offense is not less than $50 and not more than $100. The fine for a second or subsequent offense is currently not less than $100 and not more than $250. Under Thiele’s legislation the fine for a first offense would be not less than $250 and not more than $500. For a second and subsequent offense, the fine would be increased to not less than $500 and not more than $1,000.
In addition, Thiele’s bill would set a more protective standard for companion animals by permitting an officer to remove a companion animal from a vehicle “where such confinement may place the companion animal in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury due to exposure to such extreme heat or cold”.
Finally, the bill amends the law to provide that a prosecutor need not prove that the driver of the vehicle had knowledge of the dangerous confinement. Rather a prosecutor will only have to show that the companion animal was confined in dangerous conditions.
“During the July heat wave, a number of cases of animals confined in vehicles were reported to my office,” said Thiele. “Many local governments are taking steps to educate the public about the danger of such confinement. However, it is clear that the law must provide a greater deterrent and that officers must be given clear authority to remove animals that are in danger. This legislation would do just that.”
The bill will be eligible for consideration when the 2014 session begins in January.