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Leaving a pet in a hot car now comes with a fine in Alexandria

Sunday - 3/18/2012, 1:42pm  ET

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The Alexandria City Council passed an ordinance in November that bans animals from being left in vehicles when the outside temperature reaches 70 degrees or above.

Patrick Cole, director of communications and outreach with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, says Alexandria animal control has gotten multiple calls about pets being left in hot cars with our recent warmer weather.

He says that the new law, "gives our animal control officers the authority to break in or enter a car to retrieve an animal that's in distress."

Before the new law, animal control officers had to wait until the owner returned, which meant in some case waiting until it was too late for the animal.

If the animal control officer finds a pet suffering from heat stroke or other heat related problems, the owner can be hit with a class one misdemeanor of animal cruelty.

Violating the law comes with a $250 fine per animal.

"Our number one goal is really safety and compliance. We're not out to look for people to ticket," says Cole.

Cole says Fairfax and Loudoun counties have similar laws, and 14 states including Maryland have statutes banning you from leaving an animal in a hot vehicle.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)