Leaving pets in hot cars punishable by prison or fines, state government reminds Victorians

Pet owners are being reminded leaving their animals inside hot cars is a criminal offence that could see them imprisoned or fined more than $70,000. 

Victorian agriculture minister Jaala Pulford said on Saturday it was owners’ responsibility to care for their animals, especially as summer temperatures soar.

“Whether you have herds of cattle, a few riding horses or a couple of cats, it is incumbent upon you to look after your animals’ welfare, especially in hot weather by providing plenty of water, feed and shade,” Ms Pulford said. 

The state government has made changes to animal welfare laws, allowing officers from Agriculture Victoria, the RSPCA and Victoria Police to issue notices to anyone who commits a cruelty offence.

Previously, inspectors could only issue a notice to an animal’s owner.

Causing animals to suffer is a criminal offence punishable with fines up to $77,730 or two years’ imprisonment.

A press release from the office of premier Daniel Andrews explained Victoria Police should be contacted whenever an animal is left inside a hot vehicle.  

Police are permitted to break into a vehicle to rescue the suffering animal.

Other hot weather advice to animal owners includes: 

  • Not handling or transporting livestock during extreme heat. If this is unavoidable, people should plan ahead to avoid handling or transporting their livestock during the hottest times of day, and must schedule access to water and frequent, shady rest stops.
  • Feeding heat-stressed horses electrolytes and cooling them down by hosing them with cool water or placing wet towels over them.
  • Exercising pets in the cool of the day. Do not walk dogs on hot paths or roads, either.