Fido is such an important part of the family! He loves to go for rides in the car or go to the lake or camping with the family! But are you really showing Fido how much you love him when you run into WalMart & leave him in the car for 10, 20, 30 minutes…..or more!?

As temperatures rise, locals and visitors alike seek ways to keep cool. A day at the lake splashing in the cool water, floating on a tube, drifting along in a boat, or staying inside where an air conditioner helps control the humidity and provides cooler air all are options to get us through the coming weeks of summer.

But if you aren’t in control of where you go or what you do and your needs, your comfort, and your life are dependent upon the wisdom and caring of someone else, you’d better hope they’re sensitive to those needs and make wise choices!

Every year animal control officers, police officers, and fire departments across the nation receive calls about animals chained outside during extreme weather conditions or locked inside vehicles while their owners go into a store or restaurant, sometimes leaving the windows lowered because they think that will be sufficient. Only 16 states have specific laws about leaving animals inside a car or other adverse conditions. Arkansas is not one of the 16 states.

Arkansas’ state laws regarding animal neglect and abuse are very vague. According to the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, the state has a general guideline against cruelty to animals, but more specific laws are often legislated by individual towns and municipalities.

According to Zach Carlisle, the Heber Springs animal control officer, Heber Springs does not have any city laws regarding animal abuse at this time, so decisions must be based on the state law. Often times animal welfare calls occur on a weekend when Carlisle is off-duty, and while officers try to act in the best interest of the animal, they aren’t specifically trained for that. Carlisle says when there is an incident it is subject to interpretation by the officer who responds to the call of the animal in distress. Unfortunately, this causes inconsistencies in enforcing a law that isn’t more definitive.

Hopefully changes are coming soon though. Carlisle said they are in the process of drafting a municipal code for animal safety, mainly focusing on the problem of animals left in unattended vehicles. The municipal codes of other area towns are being reviewed as a guideline to constructing the animal welfare code for Heber Springs. The goal is to present the draft to the city council in June.

Regardless of the laws, or lack of laws, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends, “Before you put your pet in the vehicle, ask yourself if you really need to take your pet with you – and if the answer is no, leave your pet safely at home.”

ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-103 (2016). Offense of cruelty to animals. (a) A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly: (1) Subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment; (2) Kills or injures any animal owned by another person without legal privilege or consent of the owner; (3) Abandons an animal at a location without providing for the animal's continued care; (4) Fails to supply an animal in his or her custody with a sufficient quantity of wholesome food and water; (5) Fails to provide an animal in his or her custody with adequate shelter that is consistent with the breed, species, and type of animal; or (6) Carries or causes to be carried in or upon any motorized vehicle or boat an animal in a cruel or inhumane manner