It's been a long time coming, but there is now a law in place in which pet owners can be fined or jailed for leaving their pets outside during extreme weather conditions. The major loophole here is that the law only applies to "extreme heat or cold," according to the Chicago Tribune. This leaves other possible forms of abuse beyond the scope of the bill. 

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WQAD News 8 reports that as of Jan. 1, 2016, under this bill, pet owners will be charged with a misdemeanor for leaving their pets unattended during bouts of extreme heat or cold. If the pet dies, the owner will face a fine of $2,500 or quite possibly a year in jail.

Veterinarians are pleased with the new law, but Dr. Kristy Hook tells WQAD she'd like even stricter rules in place. Hook says animals can suffer from frostbite after spending a mere 20 minutes out in the cold. Thus, she wants a law in place in which pet owners are required to seek medical attention if their pet has been outside for too long.

If you happen upon an animal that you think is being neglected, the Humane Society recommends that you record what you see in detail. Reach out to a local Animal Services agency and tell them what you saw, providing evidence if possible.