The Prestonsburg City Council is exploring the possibility of fining residents and visitors who leave their dogs in hot vehicles.
The effort comes at the request of Prestonsburg business owner Sheena Maynard, who operates Lou’s Place for Pets near Prestonsburg City Hall.
“It’s going to get hot in July, August. It’s going to be miserable,” Maynard told the council. “You’re going to have people that don’t have better common sense. We need to do something to protect these animals in our city limits. I mean, we can’t protect them across the state, but as a community, we can say it’s not going to be tolerated here.”
She said Kentucky has no law that pertains to leaving an animal in a hot vehicle.
“As of right now, I can take my dog and put it in the car, and it 110 degrees outside, which within 15 minutes, it’ll be 140 degrees,” Maynard said. “A dog’s internal temperature is 99.1 to 101.3 degrees, so any temperature above that, no matter how much the dog pants, no matter what kind of cute haircut it has, it cannot cool itself down. So, the only thing you can do to me is write me up and send me to court. If the dog dies, the dog dies. There’s nothing we can do about it.”
She suggested the council implement fines for people who leave their dogs in hot vehicle.
“I think if we as a city start it, it’s going to be a ripple effect,” she said.
City Attorney Jennifer Elliott said people could face animal cruelty charges if officers see a dog in distress.
“The city can go stricter than the state. We can’t go, we can’t be less than the state,” she said, telling the council she can seek more information from the Kentucky League of Cities.
“I can look into it,” she said. “I mean, obviously, I’m for it. I think it’d be great, but I’m not sure … other than cruelty to animals, how we would address it.”
Mayor Les Stapleton responded, “Unless we call it some type of civil fine because the police have to go and take action. I could see that as being an option for us, and at that point, we could fine them.”
Elliott suggested the city also “throw smoking in cars with children in them in there, too,” as another offense that could be fined.
Stapleton asked her to research the possibilities with the KLC.
“I don’t see a problem with that at all. I have no issues with that,” he said.
Council Member Don Willis agreed.
“I think it’s a great idea,” he said.