OSWEGO, NY – While a recent local case regarding children left confined in a vehicle in what is considered extreme temperatures has left the public outraged, Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd, explains the repercussions of such charges.
There are two types of situations in which these charges happen; either children/people left in a vehicle or an animal left in a vehicle when experiencing extreme temperatures, he said.
“With a child or children, the obvious charge is endangering the welfare of a child. This would be the starting charge, but each case is different depending on the circumstances and we would address any other charges as the instance dictated,” the sheriff told Oswego County Today.
While endangering the welfare of a child is a misdemeanor, the charge for confinement of an animal in a vehicle is different.
Sheriff Todd said that an animal is considered property by law.
Therefore, they are referred to under the Agricultural and Markets section of the law as opposed to the more commonly known penal law.
He went on to explain that according to section 353-D of the NYS Agricultural and Markets Law, “Confinement of companion animals in vehicles: extreme temperatures” is a violation charge.”
This section goes on to set forth the allowable punishments for this charge.
For the first-time offense, this violation is punishable by a fine of no less than $50 and no more than $100.
For second and subsequent violations, the fine is to be no less than $50 and no more than $250.
“People will get very upset. We hear a lot of times ‘they only got a fine?!’ But what people fail to understand is that the punishments are already set forth for this charge. The person may be receiving the maximum punishment leviable by a judge, but people will assume the judge is just being soft,” Todd said.
The outcomes for cases regarding children/people confined in a vehicle during extreme temperatures tend to be more diverse as there are often additional charges depending on each individual situation.
With summer in its final stretch, Sheriff Todd offers advice on what to do if a person is to find a child or an animal left in a car with dangerously high temperatures.
“Call 911 right away, of course. The police and fire responders will use whatever force necessary to gain entry into the car once they have assessed the situation,” he said.
However, if a person deems the situation needs immediate response, Sheriff Todd suggests to take action appropriately.
“Make a determination visually. If it seems absolutely appropriate, it would be considered the lesser of two evils to break the window to gain entry,” he said. “I wouldn’t foresee a charge against the rescuer in this case as it is the protection of life of the people in the car that is what is most important.”