Believe it or not, there wasn’t previously an Illinois law making it illegal for pet owners to leave pets in extreme heat or cold. While officers have had the ability to break through car windows to rescue pets, there was no specific Illinois law to charge irresponsible pet owners with in these scenarios.

As of August 10th, that has changed.

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Particularly important for the summer months — when owners are liable to leave pets in scorching hot cars — the amendment to The Humane Care for Animals Act passed in the Illinois Senate without a single no vote, and passed in the Illinois House with a vote of 104 to 11.

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The amended section for pets in extreme heat reads: “No owner of a dog or cat that is a companion animal may expose the dog or cat in a manner that places the dog or cat in a life-threatening situation for a prolonged period of time in extreme heat or cold conditions that results in injury to or death of the animal.”

Individuals convicted of violating this will be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 or up to one year in jail.

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The new legislation takes effect January 1st, 2016.