Owners could face charges for leaving pets outdoors

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CHICAGO — People who leave a pet outside in extreme heat or cold could face misdemeanor charges under a new Illinois law.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation Friday making it a Class A misdemeanor if dogs and cats are injured or die because of their exposure to extreme weather.

The offense is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 or up to one year in jail, though judges would have discretion to impose lesser sentences.

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz sponsored the legislation.

The Chicago Democrat told The Chicago Tribune the bill was prompted by a large number of cases last winter in which dogs died after being left outside in subzero temperatures.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

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