New State Law Aims to Protect Pets During Extreme Weather

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Springfield - With temperatures reaching near freezing, and wind chills going even lower, just a few seconds outside can lead to health hazards.

Frost bite and hypothermia can appear in just minutes, not only for humans, but for man's best friend as well according to the Animal Protective League's communications and events director, Deb Bonner.

"Animals are just as susceptible to exposure as humans.  They can suffer frost bite.  They can suffer hypothermia especially on the pads of their feet and the tips of the ears," said Bonner.

Under a new law taking effect January 1st in Illinois, leaving pets outside during extremely cold or hot temperatures will now be illegal she added.

"Your first offense is a Class A misdemeanor and in order for you to be charged the animal does have to die.  And the death has to be determined to be the result of exposure to these extreme weather conditions.  A Class A misdemeanor in the state of Illinois as far as my understanding goes as a fine of up to $2,500 dollars and up to a year in prison.  If you can't bring them in to your house make sure that they can get into your garage, that they again have a warm place because that cold concrete floor is going to sap the heat right out of their bodies, but straw is a great insulator," she said.

For a second arrest under the new law offenders would face felony charges.

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