A new bill in the Florida Senate seeks to criminally charge owners who leave their dogs tied up outside during manmade and natural disasters.
Florida SB 1738 would charge owners who abandon their dogs outside in events such as hurricanes or tornados with animal cruelty, a first-degree misdemeanor. The charge is punishable by a possible fine of up to $5,000.
The bill, which was introduced at the beginning of the month, passed in the state's Senate Agriculture Committee with no opposition on Monday.
If passed, the bill would go into effect on July 1, a month after the beginning of hurricane season.
Stories about animals abandoned during natural disasters drew widespread attention in the last few years as hurricanes rocked the country.
About 50 pets were rescued after being tied up outside in Palm Beach County when Hurricane Irma headed to the state in 2017, according to NBC affiliate station WPTV.
Many counties — including Sarasota and Palm Beach — already "prohibit animals from being tethered in extreme weather, including but not limited to hurricanes, tropical storm, or tornadoes, according to NBC-affiliate station WFLA.