Horn would toughen animal law

Apr. 09, 2013 @ 04:15 PM

A bill filed in the N.C. House of Representatives Monday would make it illegal to confine animals in vehicles in conditions that might cause harm or death.

Rep. Craig Horn R-68, along with Rep. Pricey Harrison D-57, Rep. Jason Saine R-97, and Rep. Rayne Brown R-81, introduced a bill making it illegal to confine an animal in a motor vehicles "under conditions that are likely to cause suffering, injury, or death to the animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water, or under other endangering conditions."

Violations not resulting in harm to the animal can lead to Class 2 misdemeanor charges with a sentence of between 1 and 60 days. Violations where the animal is harmed is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor with a sentence of between 45 and 120 days of community, intermediate or active punishment.

If passed, the law is enforceable by any animal control officer, animal cruelty investigator, firefighter, rescue squad worker or law enforcement officer. It allows the authorized people to enter a vehicle using reasonable means in the case of probable cause after looking for the animal or vehicle's owner.

The bill originated from a conversation among representatives about animal bills, Horn said. Harrison had the bill drafted and the other law makers signed on.

"It's common sense because it addresses an issue that almost everyone has seen," Horn said. "And it's reasonable to implement."

The police officers he asked about the law said they favored it. Police already respond to animal welfare calls, but currently there are no laws to punish those who endanger their pets.

The proposed bill is a good compromise of enforceable law and animal protections, Horn said.

"For some people, pets are members of the family. People need to be more considerate of the animals they own and unfortunately sometimes, in order to get people to be considerate, you have to pass laws," he said.

Under current laws, the Monroe Police Department already prosecutes such cases, Monroe Police Chief Debra Duncan said.

"Right now, we use the animal cruelty statutes if there is an animal left in the car," Duncan said.