New IL law makes it a crime to leave pets out in extreme weather

New IL law makes it a crime to leave pets out in extreme weather

MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) - An Illinois law could leave pet owners with a hefty fine, or even possible jail time, if their pets are left out in extreme cold or hot weather.

The new law officially took effect on January 1.

It states that no cat or dog owner should expose their pet in a life-threatening situation for a long period of time either in excessive cold or extreme heat conditions.

It would be Class A misdemeanor, where pet owners could face up to a year in jail or a fine up to $2,500.

"My thought on that is there are going to be a lot of people that are going to be trapped in this law and a lot of them are not going to be able to pay that fine," pet owner, Rob Williams said. "There are may be some that may be able to pay it. It will probably change the thoughts of a lot of people who keep their pets outside, and so I think it's probably a good idea. It will probably change the thoughts of people that leave their pets outside,it may take some changing, but I think it could be a good thought."

"Not all animals are equipped to handle the extreme temperatures," Murphysboro Animal Control Officer Mark Tincher said.

Tincher said his department has had a similar animal cruelty law in place since 2013. Although there is no jail time, fines are set in place.

"Depending on the severity of it, it carries between $100 and $1000," he said.

Kay Creese, a veterinarian and the executive director at St. Francis Care, said it's sad to see when owners leave their pets out in the extreme heat or cold.

"We see three to four heat strokes every year and depending on how overheated they get, the vast majority of them are fatal, they don't recover from them," Creese said. "They get these internal temperatures that are 109-110 degrees and they can't survive it. You got dogs that are out in the cold in the extremes, that aren't suited to be outside...they don't have a water source because it's frozen, and they freeze, and it's sad."

When it comes to extreme weather, Creese said understanding the dog you have is key.

"Short haired breeds, whether big or little, are not suited to be outside," Creese said. "All dogs, if they're going to be outside, they need to have some sort of shelter, some way to get in/out of the wind, wet rain or snow."

Local and county animal control officers say without specifics on what excessive or extreme weather conditions are in the law, it's something they say is a little concerning.

"You could take a poll of several different people and you're going to have several different answers of what is excessive," Murphysboro Animal Control Officer Mark Tincher said. "My definition might be different than yours, more than likely it probably will be. And so I just think that we need parameters set on it."

Right now the only parameters officials have to go by, is if the pet is hurt or dies from exposure. That's when law enforcement can step in.

The bill is SB 125.

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