Animal Control Officer Kristen Hart said first time fines are $100, but can go up to $750 on a fourth offense.
Hart said the Police Department has a digital thermometer that can read a temperature inside a car.
On a hot day, she said, dogs "can suffer heat stroke and even die." That's not only in summer. Hart said the inside temperature of a car can be 30 degrees hotter than outdoors, and since dogs cool themselves by panting, if they're locked in a car, they'll be breathing in warm air.
The new municipal code also protects animals if they're locked outside on a hot day.
It says, in part, that owners need to keep pets from conditions that "endanger the health or well-being of the animal due to heat, cold, lack of proper and adequate shelter and protection from the elements, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering..."
Hart says people aren't hesitant to call police if they see an animal locked in a car, and that some days, she gets as many as three calls about the issue, mostly regarding cars parked at the mall or downtown.
"It's a hot topic. A lot of people get heated over it," she said.
The new city codes also can let police intervene if a pet is ill and left untreated. It says in part, that animals "requiring medical attention shall be taken for examination or treatment to a veterinarian at the owner's expense if the Chief of Police finds that an examination or treatment is necessary..."
Hart said the reason for the new codes is that the courts are so backed up with crimes against people that they don't have time to consider animal cases. With the new codes in place, however, when someone has a documented past of not caring for a pet -- meaning someone who has had multiple citations issued -- the Police Department can ask the District Attorney's Office to file animal abuse charges.
Although it's unnecessary for most pet owners, the new codes also require owners to provide a proper diet, too. That new code section reads, "The food shall be wholesome, palatable, free from contamination, and of sufficient quantity and nutritive value to meet the normal daily requirements for the condition and size of the animal..."
In an unrelated food matter, as of July 1, restaurants in Pleasanton will be required to use recyclable containers for takeout food.
That new law was put in place to get rid of Styrofoam containers; many takeout restaurant have already switched to cardboard containers.
This story contains 496 words.
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