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Senate bill: Animals left in cars could be deemed animal neglect

SONY DSCUnder a bill proposed in the Iowa Senate this week, keeping an animal confined in a hot or cold vehicle could be grounds for an animal neglect charge.

Senate File 51, authored by Sen. Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) establishes that a person commits animal neglect by confining an animal alone in a stationary motor vehicle. The confinement must be uninterrupted for a period in which, under the circumstances, the animal faces imminent injury or death.

There is an exception if the confinement was caused by an emergency.

The violation of animal neglect remains a simple misdemeanor. If the neglect is deemed to have been intentional, however, the violation is a serious misdemeanor.

The proposed legislation also allows a law enforcement officer to rescue the animal. Four specific conditions must first be met. The officer must:

  • make a determination that the animal requires immediate attention,
  • have probable cause to make an arrest for animal neglect,
  • take only such action as is necessary to perform the rescue, and
  • provide notice of the rescue to either a person who owns or maintains the animal or owns or operates the motor vehicle.

The Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, Justice Reform Consortium, and Iowa Pork Producers have all declared they are undecided on the bill.