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Text warning drivers about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars to be added to California driver's manual

August 25, 2010 |  3:15 pm

Dog in a hot car

Despite all the warnings against leaving animals in hot cars, we still hear all too often the horror stories of dogs that suffered or even died after being left in vehicles as temperatures inside soared.

One local assemblyman -- Democrat Anthony Portantino of the 44th District, who represents cities including Pasadena, South Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge -- decided to do something about it. When one of his constituents, Phyllis Daugherty of Highland Park, contacted Portantino with her concerns about the ongoing problem of dogs left in hot cars, Portantino began working with California's Department of Motor Vehicles to add a warning to the California Driver Handbook.

As a result, California will become the first state to add language warning drivers about the dangers of leaving dogs unattended in their vehicles with the publication of the 2011 handbook. The warning will point out that leaving a dog in a parked car is not only illegal, but carries a penalty of up to $500 in fines and six months in jail if the dog in question is injured or dies as a result.

"I am especially pleased that we were able to work out these changes without having to impose legislation," Portantino said. "The DMV understood the need for providing animal safety information just as they provide educational information on leaving unattended children in vehicles."

Advocacy group United Animal Nations applauded the move; the group's president and Chief Executive Nicole Forsyth said there's "no doubt many animal lives will be saved" as a result of the new handbook language. Last year, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office launched a campaign to warn pet owners and distributed posters that showed a dog inside an oven alongside the text "Hot Oven, Hot Car ... It's the Same Thing."

RELATED ANIMAL HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS:
Microchip helps San Diego dog find his way home five years after disappearance
USDA licenses first-ever canine influenza vaccine

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A Riverside County animal control officer works to rescue a dog locked in a parked car in 2004. (The dog was later taken to an animal shelter.) Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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