WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- With the new year comes new laws, including one designed to protect animals.
State leaders amended the existing law on animal shelters, in an effort to help owners find lost pets and relieve overcrowding at shelters among other things.
"Most of these changes are trying to get animal groups and animal services up to a certain level," said Sgt. Jerry Brewer, spokesman for the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office, which oversees the county's Animal Services Unit.
The changes, some of which went into effect earlier this year and others that go into effect Wednesday, will allow animal control and animal cruelty investigators to take action when an animal locked in a car is in danger.
"Animal control officers, if they are dispatched to a scene or a situation if there is an animal in a car, after they have exhausted all their reasonable expectations for trying to find the owner, they can enter the car," Brewer said.
Sgt. Brewer says this will help law enforcement save the lives of many animals.
"That really helps out us and helps the community, so if there was a dog or cat that's in distress during our hot summers, which we all know about, you know, they can enter that car if need be," Brewer said.
The changes also put a cap on the reimbursement amount available from the state spay and neuter program and requires a minimum holding period of 72 hours for all animals received by a shelter.
While these changes may affect certain parts of the state, Brewer says Sheriff Ed McMahon already sets the bar high for New Hanover County.
"For us, it didn't really affect us too much here at Animal Services Unit, but it just goes to show you the level of expectations sheriff mcmahon is holding for animal services unit," Brewer said.
Brewer also says most of their procedures and policies were already well above the new standards and in place before the changes even came about.