$75,000 fine not enough for careless B.C. pet owners

A dog locked in a car with the windows rolled up. Stock photo courtesy of Getty Images.

While British Columbia already has the stiffest penalties in Canada for pet owners charged with cruelty when leaving pets in a hot car in summer, the province is looking at hiking those fines even more.

Careless owners who expose pets to excessive heat and/or deprive them of adequate ventilation can be charged under the B.C. government’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, a provincial press release said. The act carries the toughest penalties in Canada, with maximum penalties of $75,000 fines and two years in jail.

The act also provides authority to SPCA officers to enter locked vehicles to relieve animals from critical distress.

The release says: the “B.C. government has recognized that regrettably, these measures are not enough to stop British Columbians from putting their pets at risk by leaving them in cars. As a result the B.C. government will be consulting with the BC SPCA, the B.C. College of Veterinarians, Union of B.C. Municipalities, local governments and police services to increase the options to rescue animals that have been left in cars and are suffering heat related distress.”

Targeted consultations will take place this summer and fall, with any changes and additional measures anticipated to be complete and in effect by spring 2016.

BC SPCA chief prevention and enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty recently noted a rise in the number of incidents.

BC SPCA has received more than 1,200 calls about animals left in hot vehicles this summer, and that number is on the rise, and already higher than the approximately 1,100 calls the SPCA responded to in 2014.”

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