{Legal Issue} Unattended Dogs in Vehicles

It’s been (ahem, cough-cough) over two months since our last Legal Post.  I know, we are slackin’!  Despite the fact that summer is winding down for most of the country, it’s still blazin’ hot here in Florida and today’s post is one that, truly, warrants attention at any time of the year.  One of our awesome readers asked whether there are laws surrounding dogs left unattended in vehicles and whether there is anything in the works to enforce this.  Here’s what Rich uncovered:

Mutt

This is a great question and I was surprised at what I found when I looked into it. While there is no national law regarding this, there are currently (only!) fourteen states that have laws prohibiting leaving dogs unattended in cars under certain conditions. These states are Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.

All of these statutes prohibit leaving an animal (all cover at least cats and dogs, and some cover a much broader range) unattended in a car when it is a danger to the animal’s health. The crime is classified as a misdemeanor and the statutes provide for punishments ranging from fines between $50 and $2000 and imprisonment for up to one year.  California’s statute is the most comprehensive (go CA!) as it provides for certain conditions that constitute a danger to the animals health: extreme temperatures, lack of ventilation, or not providing water/food. Many of the other states cover the same conditions, but do not provide that failure to provide food or water is a dangerous condition.  For us Floridians, extreme heat is obviously the most common danger.

Pit Bull

Don’t forget, Maggie is still (I know, it’s been going on forever) in a contest to win a spot in a wonderful calendar. Click here to vote for her, pretty please!

In addition to the states listed above, there are municipal ordinances in other states that prohibit leaving an animal unattended in a vehicle. There is at least one instance of a state prosecuting someone leaving an unattended dog in a car under a Cruelty to Animals law. That case was Lopez v. State, and the state of Texas prosecuted a man for leaving his dog in a car parked in front of a theater where he was watching a movie. After being convicted he appealed the case and the appeals court agreed that this constituted cruelty to animals.  Basically, this means that just because a state doesn’t have a law specifically prohibiting leaving an animal in a car, doesn’t mean that they can’t and won’t prosecute people that do this.

As far as whether there is anything in the works to enact more of these laws many state legislatures, including Florida, are currently adjourned. So while it is unlikely whether there is anything in the works in these states, it is a perfect time to contact your local state legislator and tell them that this is an important issue that you would like to see addressed.  http://thomas.loc.gov/home/state-legislatures.html This is a page maintained by the library of congress with links to every state legislature’s website, where you can find contact information for your particular state representative or senator, or whatever they call them in Nebraska (stupid unicameral system).

Hound

Now, all of that aside, if you see a dog (or cat, or hamster, or turtle, or whatever) locked in a hot car, the best thing to do is act!  It can take as little as 15 minutes for a dog to die of heat stroke, so obviously time is of the essence in these situations.  Jot down the car’s information (color, make, model, license plate number) and go in to the nearest store(s) and have the owner paged.  Go back to the car and wait.  Best case scenario?  The owner immediately comes out to their car, thanks you for your concern, and listens while you explain how dangerous what they did was, they then swear to never do it again, and decide to donate $1 million to your local rescue of choice.  Since that’s not exactly a likely outcome I would suggest also calling animal control while you wait.  If they don’t act fast and you feel the situation is dangerous enough (the dog is exhibiting signs of heat stroke) I would then suggest calling 911.  Yup, do it.  They will probably call animal control and cause them to either speed up or you might get lucky and a nearby officer would hear the call and respond.  Whatever you do, don’t leave the dog until he is safe.

Well, until next time folks!

Balancing Acts

I know I refer to And Foster Makes Five like, all the time, but we just always seem to be on similar pages so I can’t help it!  They recently wrote a post about balance and…here’s a shocker, I’m in a position of playing a balancing act myself.  It’s fantastic news but basically the job that I recently started is turning into kind-of-a-big-deal and I basically have to revamp an entire department that has been screwing things up royally making mistakes for the last year.  And what does this mean for me?  Long, very stressful hours.  With Rich embarking on his law career at the same time, well, it leaves little time for extra curricular actives, like volunteering (no matter how much I wish that could be my actual job.)

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It hurts my heart but there is just no way we could take in a foster with the unpredictably (and potentially very long) hours we will both be working for the next few months (years?!)  I know the mutts will be a little sad to see less of us but Maggie will get to go to camp (which is extremely conveniently located about a quarter of a mile from my office!) and the other two will sleep lounge around the house all day, just enjoying being their old lazy selves.

I am proud of the friends that I’ve gotten involved in rescue (go check out UnsaidYetUnderstood who I quite literally had to nag to start fostering….and has now had 10 dogs pass through her doors!) and like to think that even though I’m not actively fostering right now, at least I have inspired others to do so.  This is quite literally the reason I started the blog, so I guess that makes it a success?  There are also friends that have gotten involved in other aspects of volunteering, and also blogging, which I love.  The way I see it, every new person that helps “spread the word” will reach a new person that I couldn’t have.  And those people might become inspired as well, and then they might inspire someone new, and then…..you see what I mean?  It’s awesome!

Cute Pit Bull

Vote for Maggie to make it into an adorable calendar and possibly become the most perfect ever Miss July by “liking” her picture here!

All of this to say, I have a feeling this space that I’ve so enjoyed filling with stories of my adventures, my overly opinionated opinions, and of course, dogs in need, will probably continue to dwindle as it has been recently.  It makes me sad, but I can also step back and look to the future, and realize that by settling into a prosperous career now, it will ultimately benefit so many more dogs in the long run because I will ultimately be in an even better position to help and give more than just my time.  Don’t get my wrong, if there are things I can do, I will, it’s just I really don’t foresee my blog about fostering really having anything to do with fostering for quite some time.  (This is where I wipe away a tear.)

Balance:  A necessary evil that I will put up with for now.  In the mean time: Foster.  Transport.  Donate.  ADOPT!  Saves lives.

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

IMG_1196On Friday one of my very best, most favorit-ist, prettiest, smartest, everything-est friends will be getting in to town to visit for the weekend.  I have a feeling our weekend will look a lot like the picture above (those are her two plus my girls.)  Buddy is mentally preparing himself:

Happy Mutt

Happy Hump Day Everyone!

Pssst.  You.  Yea, you!  Have you voted for Maggie yet?  No?  Ok, well click here and do it!  By my quick mathematical skills I have guestimated her to be in 14th place…probably not good enough to make it into a 12 month calendar, so we need, yes need, your help!  If the link doesn’t work, just go to “Your Pit Bull and You” on Facebook and look for her cute mug in the contest album.  Thanks a bajillion everyone!  We really, really appreciate it.

Handsome Eddie

So remember the post with the momma and puppies?  Well, my friend that had them (we have since found a rescue for the puppies, yay!) has another dog at her house that she rescued a few months back that I’m hoping to help as well.  Meet Handsome Eddie:

Big Pit Bull

Quite the stud, huh?  She took him out of an abusive situation and has been layin’ on the love extra thick like ever since.  When she first got him, Eddie was rather nervous, but he has since bonded deeply with her boyfriend, which is pretty darn cool considering most dogs that come from abusive situations tend to be scared of men.  Though he can still be a little shy, he has been doing an excellent job learning what it means to be a loved member of the family.

Staffordshire Terrior

Here is Eddie when my friend first got him. If you look closely, you can see some of his wounds.

Eddie lives in a house with multiple other dogs and gets along great with all of them, male and female alike, with one little (pun intended) exception: their small dog.  He would, errrr, probably enjoy playing with him a little too much.  Hey, it’s ok to have one little flaw when you’re as good looking as he is, right?!  Eddie is also learning plenty of commands and recently discovered the joys of a flirt pole (though my friend says a tougher toy is in order.)

Sleeping Pit Bull

In addition to being well behaved, sweet, and incredibly good looking, Eddie is also fully vetted, including being neutered.  My friend is fostering him completely on her own, without the financial or networking help of a rescue.  She will happily keep him until the perfect home comes along, but since she has to shuffle Eddie and the little dog around, we are hoping that will be sooner than later.  If you happen to know of anyone in the market for a super handsome stud like Eddie, please let me know!  (Or click the ever popular share button to help increase his exposure, wink wink.)

Handsome Pit Bull

What a stud!

Last, but never least, I have to put in yet another little plug for my Maggie Moo.  Have you voted for her yet?  Pretty please take a second and visit Your Pit Bull and You’s Facebook page and do so!  We appreciate it more than you’ll ever know!

Handsome Dog

Bragging Rights

I mentioned on the Facebook page on Saturday that we were thinking about taking the pups a dog park.  A guy that I work with was telling me about it so when we got up on Saturday I found the site online and read about it.  It sounded great!  The park is 42 acres, has a lake (which is getting a dock that will be used for dock diving, which of course made us think of our friends at And Foster Makes Five), offers agility classes and trails for hiking, and has strict rules that must be followed.  I know a lot of people are weary about taking their dogs to parks because of all the opportunities for something to go wrong, which I generally agree with, but this sounded so structured (not to mention you pay to get in) that I felt confident it would be a positive experience.

Pit Bull

 Maggie was SO excited to go on a trip.  I love seeing her confidence growing each day.  A year ago, she would have been flattened to the seat in fear, look at her now!

We decided at the last minute that even though we felt really good about the place, it would be wisest to just bring one dog to check it out the first time.  So we did, and I bet you won’t believe this, but we picked Maggie Moo to be the lucky one.  The other two are so much older and lazier that we knew they wouldn’t mind a quiet afternoon alone, lounging in the air conditioning.  I’ll admit, I got a little nervous when we pulled up and saw just how many people were there.  The place, huge as it was, was packed.  We brought Maggie inside to pay and so they could confirm she was current on her rabies, and they gave us a brief tour.  Now, maybe I’m hyper sensitive to these things, but just felt like they were giving us a little extra scrutinization because of Maggie’s breed.  But being the angel that she is, she was great, even when a pushy German Shorthair Pointer rudely got in her face while we were squished inside the office.  That’s my girl!

Hiking Trails

We chose to head to the section of the park with the trails (partially because we love trails, but also because it seemed less packed) and we got down to business: havin’ fun!  I have seriously never been as proud as I was of Maggie that day.  Every dog we encountered from big to small, hyper to mellow, Maggie would look at me for cues on how to act.  She’s never been a fan of dogs getting in her face too quickly but instead of telling anyone to back off, she would just look at me and I’d tell her, “It’s ok, Moo.  Good girl, let’s go now!” and we would continue on our way.  She never got more than 10-15 yards ahead of us before turning around to check in or running back over for a quick pat.  Moo would come the second we called her, even when other dogs were right by.  Her impulse control was simply amazing!  I just can’t stop bragging to anyone that will listen about how proud I am of her.  She’s the best.  End of story.

Backyard Lounging

We didn’t stay too terribly long because everything was going so perfect we wanted to make sure we ended on an excellent note.  We will most definitely be back!  They offer lots of different classes and I’m trying to pick which one I want to sign up for.  I can’t wait for them to put the dock in so we can check that out, too!  The rest of the weekend has been spent lounging around and (obsessively) checking out Your Pit Bull and You’s Facebook page to see how Maggie is doing in the contest.  If you haven’t already, I would sooo appreciate if you voted for her!  Puh-puh-please go here and “like” her picture.  (I know, begging is so unflattering, but I just can’t help it!)  We hope everyone else had a wonderful weekend, too!

A Contest?!

Oh boy, we are sooo very excited here at the THPL house.  Maggie got selected to be in a calendar contest!  It would mean so very much to us if she won and thousands of people got to see her beautiful face and read her story.  To win the contest, your dog has to get the most “likes” on their picture…and this is where our super awesome, wonderful, fantabulous readers come in.  Can you take a second and vote for the star of this blog?  We would appreciate it more than you’ll ever know!

pit bull photo contestAbove is the picture we submitted (along with quite a few others) that they chose to be in the contest.  To vote, you simply go to the Your Pit Bull and You‘s Facebook page, go the the album entitled 2014 Calendar Contest, find the picture above, and “like” it!  Or you can click here and it should take you directly to her picture.

A little about Your Pit Bull and You:  they are a page that I stumbled across many months back and am absolutely in love with.  They are all about positive training, and not using out dated scare tactics to train your dog.  They are always posting training tips and suggestions, as well as just generally being excellent ambassadors of the breed…oh!  And they always have cute pictures up 🙂  Thank you in advance to anyone that takes the time to vote for my girl.  And a super, extra, gigantic thank you to anyone that votes and shares so she has an even better chance!  Happy Friday!

A Happy Coincidence!

First a little disclaimer: this post is written by Rich, not Morgan, so apologies up front to anyone that clicked here expecting her (I’ll see if I can get her to post some extra pictures of the dogs to make up for it!).

Pit Bull

Earlier I had the pleasure of writing on the options available to someone preparing to take care of a pet in case anything untimely should happen. You can imagine my surprise when I was taking the Florida Bar Exam at the end of July and saw an essay question asking in part what options were available to someone that wanted to provide for her pregnant Labrador in case anything should happen to her. That seems like serendipity to me! Also in the essay the woman was more concerned with providing for her Labrador and her puppies than for her son (a sentiment that I’m afraid I might also share if faced with the same decision, after all a dog can’t support itself!  We all know I would never own a dog that was capable of getting pregnant, unless Morgan brought home one that already was, but you see the point is in caring for the dogs’ needs first and foremost.)

Labrador

What’s even more exciting about the appearance of this question on the exam is that generally states put topics on the bar that they want new attorneys to be versed in. Maybe this is an indication of more pet-friendly legislation in Florida in the coming years. In any event at least the more than three thousand people taking the exam last month either knew how to set up a trust for the care of a pet, or are kicking themselves for not knowing.

Pet Care

What do you think? Is this a sign of things to come in Florida, and possibly nationwide? What pet related legislation would you like to see? Tell us in the comments below!