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Marsh may draft legislation to keep animals from being left in vehicles

Then-Senate President Del Marsh speaks to reporters outside of the Senate Chamber in March 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)

State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, announced on Facebook that he is considering writing legislation making it a crime to leave pets unattended in cars.

We have all been to a big box store parking lot and seen people who for some reason took their pet(s) with them to town and inexplicably left the pet in the car while they went in the store, even though automobiles get very hot in Alabama very fast in an Alabama summer. Senator Marsh is considering drafting legislation making that a crime in Alabama.

“I am looking into having legislation drafted to prohibit people from leaving animals unattended in their vehicles,” Sen. Marsh said. “The recent incident of a person leaving a dog in the car for seven hours should have never happened.”

On July 4, Stephanie Shae Thomas, age 34 of Trussville, parked a Mercedes at a Wal-Mart parking with a dog inside. Seven hours later police were called. They broke into the car after efforts to find the owner were unsuccessful. Officers tried to resuscitate the animal at the scene were unsuccessful. Thomas says that she just lost track of time. She has been charged with felony animal cruelty.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they were left in parked vehicles.

According to the AVMA, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise almost 20 degrees F in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30º F…and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside a vehicle.

A study, performed by the Louisiana Office of Public Health, found that the temperatures in a dark sedan as well as a light gray minivan parked on a hot, but partly cloudy day, exceeded 125 degree F within just 20 minutes.

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The 2019 Alabama legislative session begins in March.

Sen. Marsh is the Senate Pro Tem. He is currently the President of the Senate because the position of Lieutenant Governor is unfilled.

(Original reporting by Chicago’s WGN Channel 9 contributed to this report.)

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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