Fri 07 Apr, 2023 Criminal Defense

Is it a Crime to Leave Your Dog in the Car in New York?

Dogs have been a major part of people’s lives for thousands of years. Although dogs typically stay in our homes, we often take them with us when we go out, whether we are simply taking our dog on a walk through the neighborhood or driving the dog to the vet, supermarket, or a friend’s house.

Not surprisingly, we sometimes encounter scenarios when our dog is with us in our car, but we must leave the dog in the car to pick something up or otherwise do something in a place where the dog is not permitted to be.

Sadly, sometimes dogs are left in cars that become so hot or cold that the dog gets injured or even dies. Obviously, we want to protect our pets to make sure that they are not harmed, and animal cruelty laws in New York have been enacted in an effort to prevent harm to our beloved pets.

However, in the right conditions, dogs can be safely kept in a vehicle, and a person will not be exposed to animal cruelty charges. This article discusses the circumstances when leaving a dog or other pet in a vehicle becomes a punishable offense.

The Law Involving Dogs in Cars

New York State Agricultural Markets Law § 353-d provides the relevant law that governs when it is unlawful to keep a dog inside of a car. Crucially, it is not unlawful to leave your dog inside a car unless you leave your animal in extreme heat or cold without proper ventilation or protection, and consequently, such confinement places the dog in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury. The statute reads as follows:

§ 353-d. Confinement of companion animals in vehicles: extreme
temperatures. 1. A person shall not confine a companion animal in a
motor vehicle in extreme heat or cold without proper ventilation or
other protection from such extreme temperatures where such confinement
places the companion animal in imminent danger of death or serious
physical injury due to exposure to such extreme heat or cold.

2. Where the operator of such a vehicle cannot be promptly located, a
police officer, peace officer, peace officer acting as an agent of a
duly incorporated humane society, emergency medical services personnel,
paid firefighter, or volunteer firefighter who in the performance of
such volunteer firefighter’s duties are directed to respond to a call
for assistance for such animal may take necessary steps to remove the
animal or animals from the vehicle.

3. Police officers, peace officers, peace officers acting as agents of
a duly incorporated humane society, emergency medical services
personnel, paid firefighters, or volunteer firefighters who in the
performance of such volunteer firefighters’ duties or emergency medical
services personnel are directed to respond to a call for assistance for
such animal removing an animal or animals from a vehicle pursuant to
this section shall place a written notice on or in the vehicle, bearing
the name of the officer or agent, and the department or agency and
address and other contact information, if available, where the animal or
animals will be taken.

4. An animal or animals removed from a vehicle pursuant to this
section shall, after receipt of any necessary emergency veterinary
treatment, be delivered to the duly incorporated humane society or
society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or designated agent
thereof, in the jurisdiction where the animal or animals were seized.

5. Any person who knowingly violates the provisions of subdivision one
of this section shall be guilty of a violation, punishable by a fine of
not less than fifty dollars nor more than one hundred dollars for a
first offense, and a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more
than two hundred and fifty dollars for a second and subsequent offenses.

6. Officers, emergency medical services personnel and firefighters
shall not be held criminally or civilly liable for actions taken
reasonably and in good faith in carrying out the provisions of this

7. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to affect any
other protections afforded to companion animals under any other
provisions of this article.

Penalties if Convicted

If you are convicted of leaving your dog inside of a vehicle in extreme conditions, you will be charged with a violation. In other words, this offense is not a crime and therefore will not give you a criminal record. However, the violation would still be on your record if you are convicted. If you are found guilty, then, in addition to having this violation on your record, you will be fined between $50 and $100. If you have been previously convicted of this offense, then your fine will be between $100 and $200.

An Example

Let’s say you park your car on the street to go inside a grocery store for 30 minutes. It’s 50 degrees outside and you turn off your car’s air conditioning but keep the windows up. While you are inside the store, someone walks by your car and sees your dog inside, and can’t find the owner of the vehicle (you). Let’s say that the person calls the police, and the police show up and break your window to get your dog out of the car. The police then arrest you and charge you with Agricultural Markets Law 353-d. In this scenario, the police would have falsely arrested you, and you would have a great case in court because you had not left your dog in extreme conditions. Having your dog inside a car in temperate conditions is no worse (in fact it’s probably better) than when a dog is kept in a crate. 

On the other hand, if it was 75 degrees outside and the inside of your vehicle started reaching over 100 degrees while your dog was inside, then you may have a more difficult case because you may have put your dog in imminent danger of serious physical injury. 

Get the Help You Need — Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Cody Warner Today

If you’ve been charged for keeping your dog inside your vehicle, contact Cody Warner for a free consultation. He is an experienced lawyer who can develop the best strategy for getting your charges dropped.