Minister pledging stiff penalties for those who leave animals in hot vehicles
AMHERST – The president of the L.A. Animal Shelter is welcoming a move by the province that could see those who leave their pets in hot cars facing stiff penalties.
“I’m very pleased that the government is finally putting some meat on the bones of an action plan to ensure animals are better cared for,” Marilyn Williams said. “It’s just said to think that we need laws in order for people to treat their pets well.”
Williams’ comments come after Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell confirmed he working to change the legislation to give police the ability to ticket pet owners who leave their pets in hot cars.
The minister said officials with the Justice Department are working on the details, but added police will be able to write tickets on the spot and that the fines could be stiff.
It’s unlikely the changes will be in effect until fall.
Williams said she cannot understand why someone would leave an animal in a car on a hot day, when temperatures inside the vehicle can soar to more than 50 C in mere minutes.
“Animals are living beings and we must do whatever we can to keep them safe regardless of public backlash,” Williams said. “There is still much to do in terms of animal advocacy.”
Williams said her concern goes beyond the tethering of dogs and leaving animals in hot cars and includes people who do little or nothing to control the cat population, or those who would toss a pregnant cat away like trash because they don’t want to deal with the kittens.
She said considering how people are going above and beyond to protect these animals on their own dime, it’s up to government to get involved by supporting population control measures and protecting animals caught in serious or abusive situations.
“A good thing has started, now let’s keep the ball rolling and continue to do what each of us can do as well to insist that the power to be do the right thing,” she said.
Angie Burns has seen plenty of examples of animals being left in cars on hot days.
“I don’t know what it is with people. You can go to the mall on a day when it’s cooler and there are no dogs in cars, but if you go out there on a hot day you’ll find all kinds of dogs left in cars,” said Burns, who operates a dog grooming business on Riverbend Drive. “People will park their car far away from the store thinking that no one will notice, but we do.”
Burns said she was angered to see a story out of Halifax in which police broke a car window to let a dog out of a hot vehicle but didn’t charge the owner because the animal wasn’t injured.
She said she has spoken to Cumberland South MLA and PC Party leader Jamie Baillie about it and is happy to see change is finally happening.
She also circulated a petition in the community a year ago urging the government to do something.
“This is not something you see in the big cities, it’s happening right here. On any given day when it’s hot out, drive around the parking lots at the malls and downtown. You’ll be surprised by what you see,” Burns said.