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EDITORIAL: Crack down on owners who leave pets in cars

(Sun-Times Library)

Most people know not to leave pets in cars on hot or cold days, but too many people carelessly put animals in peril by doing so.

It’s for those thoughtless people that Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) has proposed an ordinance that would fine pet owners from $300 to $1,000 for confining a pet in a vehicle in a “life — or health-threatening situation.” Animal welfare groups tell us this is no small problem.

EDITORIAL

Villegas also plans a follow-up ordinance he says is similar to laws in 17 states that would free people from liability if they smash open a car window to free an animal.

“You’ve got to hit people in the pocketbook to make sure this understand this is serious,” Villegas said.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th)  | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Villegas said he has seen examples of pets locked in cars during extreme weather conditions on the internet and in parking lots.

“Even when you’re sitting in a vehicle in 90 degrees with all the windows down, it gets hot really quick,” Villegas said. “And when you have an animal with fur — can you imagine sitting in a vehicle with a coat on in 90-degree weather?”

The Humane Society of the United States says people who see a pet left in a hot car should: Take down the car’s make, model and license plate number; ask managers or security guards of any nearby businesses to make an announcement to find the car’s owner; call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control if the owner can’t be found and wait by the car for authorities to arrive.

In the dog days of summer, nobody’s pet should be made to suffer.

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