Animal Welfare Laws to Protect Dogs from Extreme Weather in Utah

As summer temperatures around the country continue to rise, some states outside of Utah are creating or updating their animal welfare laws that will hopefully protect dogs left outside from the extreme weather.

Increase in temperatures

Photo by: Les Haines

After what could be called a pleasant and mild spring, summer is in full force in the Beehive State. Southern Utah has been experiencing triple digits for several weeks while the Salt Lake Valley has been seeing steady 90’s, with many days reaching 100 degrees. As residents take shelter indoors with air conditioners blasting, many dogs are left outdoors without adequate ways for keeping cool.

Getting specific

Indianapolis, Indiana just put  amended animal welfare laws into effect that requires pet owners to bring dogs inside if the temperatures reach 90 degrees and above. Their law also defines specifically what is considered adequate shelter and enclosures for dogs, especially when temperatures are rising (or falling). Some local representatives attempted to amend Utah Animal Welfare laws to protect dogs last year to specify a set degree when the pet needed to be brought inside along with other definitions. That bill failed to pass.

Animal Welfare Laws – up for interpretation

Photo by: barockschloss

Instead of setting a degree when a pet cannot be lawfully left outside to bake (or freeze), Utah animal welfare laws to protect dogs require owners to provide “adequate protection, including appropriate shelter, against extreme weather conditions;” that :[takes] into account the species, age, and physical condition of the animal’. While some dog owners may feel this is less lenient than states such as Indiana, what it does instead is allows law enforcement define what they feel is “adequate protection” and what would be considered “extreme weather conditions”. This could go both ways for Utah residents. Some Utahns may be allowed to let their pup scorch in the summer heat while others face charges for outdoor dog arrangements that would be more humane.

Working with gray areas

When charges occur due to a gray area law subject to interpretation, it is important that the person charged contacts an attorney. Proper representation could bring these gray areas to light to ensure the defendant’s actions are viewed from a majority’s moral compass and not that of a select few.

New Motorcycle Lane Filtering Laws in Utah

Laws regarding motorcycles have changed in Utah, now allowing lane filtering which is different than what is known as lane splitting.

Lane filtering

Lane Filtering

Photo by: Paul Sableman

A new law was put into effect in May, allowing motorcycle riders to perform an action that is known as lane filtering. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, “Lane filtering” means, when operating a motorcycle other than an autocycle, the act of overtaking and passing another vehicle that is stopped in the same direction of travel in the same lane. In other words – lane filtering refers to the process of a motorcyclist moving between two lanes to the front of traffic stopped at an intersection.”

Law specifics

Many drivers of motor vehicles are concerned with the new law, perhaps worried a motorcycle will come whizzing by them while they are stopped in traffic or attempting to switch lanes. Fortunately, the new law ensures the new action by motorcycles is done carefully, keeping other drivers’ safety in mind. Utah Department of Public Safety advises motorcycle drivers that:

  1. Lane filtering is only allowed when the road being traveled has speeds of 45 miles per hour or lower;
  2. Lane filtering can only be done on roads with at least two adjacent lanes of travel going in the same direction;
  3. Motorcycles can only filter between traffic when other vehicles are stopped;
  4. While lane filtering, motorcycle speeds may not exceed 15 miles per hour; and
  5. The motorcycle driver is responsible for making sure the action is done safely.

Utah laws vs other states

While all Utah drivers should be excited about any law that alleviates traffic while keeping motorcycle drivers safer, Utah motorcycle laws still differ from those in nearby states. California is currently the only state to allow an action known as lane splitting, which Utah motorcycle drivers should know is different from lane filtering. While lane filtering allows a motorcycle to travel individually between stopped vehicles, lane splitting is the act of multiple motorcycles sharing a lane of travel, otherwise known as riding side by side. Lane splitting is not currently allowed in Utah, and motorcycle riders could receive a traffic violation for doing so. Drivers of all vehicles on the road are encouraged to drive safely and consult with an attorney for any driving infractions that could end in criminal charges.

Aggravated Charges for Man Who Killed Missing Utah Student

Aggravated charges are pending for a Utah man after authorities located charred DNA evidence of missing college student in the man’s backyard.

Missing college students

Photo by: Tony Webster

In the early morning hours of June 17, 2019, Mackenzie Lueck let her parents know she had arrived at the Salt Lake City Airport before taking a Lyft ride to a park in North Salt Lake. There she met someone in another vehicle and was never seen again. For the next week and a half, Lueck missed her school classes and work and did not take a flight she had scheduled back to California to see her family. Investigators worked tirelessly around the clock, eventually questioning a man that had engaged in electronic communications with Lueck prior to her disappearance.

DNA evidence

Neighbors to the man alerted authorities that the day Lueck had gone missing, the man had been burning things in his backyard with gasoline. After obtaining a search warrant, police were able to find burned remains of Lueck’s belongings as well as charred body tissue. DNA evidence from those findings were linked to Lueck. The owner of the house, 31 year old Ayoola Ajayi was arrested on several charges including aggravated charges of kidnapping and murder as well as obstruction of justice and desecration of a human body.

Aggravated charges

Ajayi is facing four felonies for the following:

  • Third degree desecration of a human body. Utah Code 76-9-704 states “A person is guilty of abuse or desecration of a dead human body if the person intentionally and unlawfully . . . disturbs, moves, removes, conceals, or destroys a dead human body or any part of it”.
  • Second degree obstruction of justice, described by Utah Code 76-8-306 as when a person commits actions with the “. . . intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the investigation, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person regarding conduct that constitutes a criminal offense”.
  • First degree aggravated kidnapping defined by Utah Code 76-5-303 as “ . . . if the actor, in the course of committing unlawful detention or kidnapping: uses or threatens to use a dangerous weapon . . . or acts with intent;
    – To hold the victim for ransom or reward, or as a shield or hostage . . . ;
    – To facilitate the commission . . . of a felony;
    – To hinder or delay the discovery of or reporting of a felony;
    – To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another; . . .
    – To commit a sexual offense”.
  • First degree aggravated murder. “Criminal homicide constitutes aggravated murder if the actor intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another” and was also involved in sexual offenses, kidnapping, desecration of a human body or other circumstances as stated in Utah Code 76-5-202.

The ultimate penalty

Ajayi is facing up to five years in prison for desecration of a human body, one to 15 years for obstruction of justice and five to life for aggravated kidnapping. The aggravated charges of murder could result in life in prison or the death penalty, depending on if it is charged as a noncapital or capital felony. Section 76-5-202 states “If a notice of intent to seek the death penalty has been filed, aggravated murder is a capital felony. If a notice of intent to seek the death penalty has not been filed, aggravated murder is a noncapital first degree felony”.According to Section 76-3-207.7, noncapital first degree aggravated murder is punishable by “life in prison without parole; or an indeterminate prison term of not less than 25 years and that may be for life. Regarding a capital felony, 76-3-206 notes “the sentence shall be: . . . life in prison without parole or death.

Criminal defense

Regardless of the type of crime committed and whether or not they have been tried already by the public court of social media, anyone facing charges has the constitutional right to be represented by an attorney in a court of law. For more information on the options available for those facing serious charges such as aggravated murder, contact a criminal defense attorney.