Leaving Your Pet in Your Car: What Nevada Law Says

Leaving your pet in your car, even for a brief moment, can be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. Each year, countless pets suffer from heatstroke and other life-threatening conditions simply because their owners underestimated the risks associated with leaving them in a parked vehicle.

The interior temperature of a car can soar to unbearable levels within minutes, posing an immediate and severe threat to any animal left inside. Our furry companions rely on us to ensure their safety and well-being, and it’s crucial that every pet owner understands the urgent need to avoid this perilous decision.

According to Nevada Revised Statute 202.487 (NRS 202.487), it is a misdemeanor to keep your pet in an unattended, parked or standing motor vehicle if conditions are unsafe for your pet. This includes, but is not limited to, extreme hot or cold, unsafe weather conditions, or anything presenting a risk to your pet’s health and well being.

For such a misdemeanor, penalties may include up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines, and law enforcement have the authority to break into the vehicle to rescue pets without the responsibility or requirement of reimbursing you for car damage or repair costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I ever allowed to leave my pets unattended in the car?

If there is nothing presenting a risk to your pet’s health and well being, extreme hot or cold or unsafe weather conditions, it is okay to keep your domesticated pet, such as cats or dogs, in your vehicle in Nevada. Dangerous conditions for your pet include, but are not limited to, during flash flood, during a tornado, during a frost or heatwave, anywhere frequent gunfire may be present, or in deprivation of food, water or other necessities. It is important to remember that temperatures inside your vehicle may be up to 20 degrees higher than that of outside temperatures, especially in the heat of summer. Note: Law enforcement often refers to these cases of dogs left in hot cars as “hot dogs.”

NRS 202.487 and any implications also apply not only to dog walkers, pet sitters or anyone else in temporary custody of the pet. Whoever is responsible for keeping the animal safe will face animal cruelty charges if they fail to do so.

What will happen to my animal?

Whether or not you lose possession of your pet varies based on the case-by-case scenarios. If your local Animal Control comes on the scene, they may petition with the court for the defendant to surrender and give up their pet based on animal cruelty actions. In most cases, this is only seen if dogs, cats, or domesticated animals are in dire condition when found. In Nevada, if the pet remains unharmed, judges often give a warning and allow owners/defendants to keep their animal.

What happens if law enforcement confiscates my pet?

If police arrive at the scene and confiscate the animal, the pet owner is entitled to know where their domesticated animal is being sheltered at that time. If the owner fails to reclaim their pet/domesticated animal and pay applicable fees for sheltering, the shelter may euthanize or rehome the animal.

What are penalties for leaving animals in a car?

The penalty for leaving your domesticated animal in a car, under dangerous conditions, is a misdemeanor under Nevada state law. Punishments include, but are not limited to, up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. It is good to know that it is rare for judges to impose jail time for a defendant’s first-time offense.

If I am charged, how do I fight charges?

When owners or those in temporary custody are charged with this misdemeanor, they may be able to argue in Nevada that the conditions were actually safe and put the domesticated pet at no harm. Some evidence that may be used to the owner’s advantage may include, but is not limited to, photos and videos of the animal in the car and surrounding conditions, eyewitness or expert testimonies, weather reports from that day, or records from a veterinarian or any specialists your pet visits.

If you unintentionally lock your pet in the car, during dangerous conditions, you may not be liable under NRS 202.487. It is important to seek help and release the animal from the car and dangerous conditions as soon as you recognize the fault or error on your part.

Facing Criminal Charges? Hire The Defenders

Turn to a trusted lawyer who can help you navigate the uncertain situation. Our lawyers at The Defenders are experts in navigating misdemeanors and are here by your side to work at getting you the best possible resolution.

What should I do if I am a witness to someone locking their pet in a car during unsafe conditions?

  • Eyewitnesses to such misdemeanors may call the local public safety or animal control officers.
  • Clark County Animal Control (CCAC): 702.455.7710
  • Washoe County Regional Animal Services Dispatch (WCRAS): 775.322.3647

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