All our furry friends out there may be getting some extra protection from the New York State Assembly.
Assemblyman Fred Thiele introduced legislation on Monday increasing the penalties for confining a companion animal in a vehicle during times of extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Currently, the fine for a first offense is not less than $50 and not more than $100. A second offense fine is not less than $100 nor more than $250.
Under Thiele's legislation the fine for a first offense would be increased to not less than $500 and not more than $1000.
New legislation would also permit officers to remove endangered animals in the vehicles "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," according to a press release from the Assembly.
The bill would also amend the law to provide that a prosecutor need not prove that the driver of the vehicle had knowledge of the dangerous confinement. The new legislation would allow the prosecutor to 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," Thiele said.
On July 23, a Bridgehampton couple returned to their car where they found their Labrador-mix dead.
Andrew Pepper, a house call veterinarian based in Sag Harbor, said, "We have to educate people better."
"Many local governments are taking steps to educate the public about the danger of such confinement," Thiele sad. "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 would be up for consideration when the 2014 session begins in January.