BEAUMONT - A South Texas senator hopes to increase the punishment for abandoning pets in extreme conditions inside motor vehicles.
Senate Bill 69 was submitted by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) and wants to make the punishment for pet abandonment a Class A misdemeanor. Animal advocates in Southeast Texas think this bill is a step in the right direction for animal welfare.
Here at the Humane Society of Southeast Texas, animals are kept in comfortable conditions as they wait for a new home.
Monica Lee has worked with the group for two years but has loved animals all her life. She can't stand to think about how people could abuse or abandon their pets.
She feels an avoidable danger to pets is leaving them alone in a car.
"People don't realize that what's an 84, nice day outside to them, a dog or cat left in a car quickly becomes 120 degrees inside that car. Um, and no animal needs to go through that, and no animal should go through that," Lee said.
That's why Texas Senate Bill 69 was submitted for January's legislative session.
The bill would increase the penalty for pet abandonment to a Class A misdemeanor, a punishment including up to a $4,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
Locally, Beaumont Animal Control has reported 19 calls for service for dogs left in cars through October 2016.
Matthew Fortenberry says they hope changes already being made locally can spread across Texas.
"It's a very serious situation, and another thing we're doing now is revising our city animal ordinances and this is one of the things we're addressing is dogs left in cars along with animals left in the back of trucks and cars," Fortenberry said.
Lee thinks this change would make society more compassionate.
"I hope that lawmakers realize that this is not a question of a dog or a cat or a child, this is the question of a life," Lee said.
Currently, leaving animals in a car is a Class C misdemeanor, which includes a possible fine of up to $500.
Beaumont Animal Control encourages anyone who sees a pet left unattended in a vehicle to take down that vehicles information and call 9-1-1.
For other tips on what to do if you find a pet unattended in a vehicle, click here.
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