A bill introduced in the Florida State Senate earlier this month would make it illegal to abandon dogs during natural disasters.
Senate Bill 1738 would make it a misdemeanor to leave a dog outside and unattended using a restraint during a manmade or natural disaster and authorizes veterinarians to report suspected offenders. According to ABC News, those who abandon their dogs could receive up to a year in prison or a fine of $5,000.
"A person who leaves a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint during a manmade disaster or a natural disaster commits animal cruelty, a misdemeanor of the first degree," the bill says.
The bill was introduced by State Sen. Joe Gruters (R). It passed an Agriculture Committee vote 5-0 on Monday and has been referred to the Criminal Justice Committee.
“We want to give these dogs a fighting chance,” Gruters said during the Agriculture committee hearing on Monday, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Florida is frequently hit by hurricanes, and its panhandle is still recovering from Hurricane Michael, which struck the state in October.