California's 'Hot Car Rescue' Law Is A Good Idea

| by Mark Jones
A trapped dog looks out the window of a parked car.A trapped dog looks out the window of a parked car.

California lawmakers showed excellent judgment when passing a law to allow bystanders to free animals trapped in hot cars.

On Sept. 24, California Governor Jerry Brown passed a law that allows citizens to break into vehicles if they see an animal suffering from excessive heat inside of its closed doors, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Citizens must call police or somehow alert law enforcement officials before performing the break-in under AB 797, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

If enforcers are not responding quickly enough, the car is locked, and the animal in question appears to be in immediate danger, citizens are allowed to break into the vehicle to free the animal. The citizen must wait with the vehicle until law enforcement officials arrive.

This law is making its debut after a long, hot summer that tragically underscored the death of many pets left in extremely hot vehicles.

On July 20, a dog died in a police car in Porterville, California, according to KABC.  An officer left Idol, a Belgian Malinois, in the backseat of the car for 90 minutes while he worked from home. Though the officer left the car and air conditioning running, a failing engine caused the air to shut off, leaving Idol trapped inside of the vehicle while outside temperatures reached 99 degrees.

“It’s like losing a kid,” said Porterville Police Chief Eric Kroutil after hearing about the loss of Idol, according to KABC.

Similar cases have been reported across the United States.

Temperatures inside of enclosed vehicles can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit on a sunny, 78-degree day, reports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. 

PETA’s website also states that animals begin to suffer brain damage or heat stroke after just 15 minutes in these conditions.

Though many people would like to save the animals that they see suffering inside of parked cars and trucks, they fear a lawsuit from the car and pet owners.

For this reason, Governor Brown was right to sign the law in California that frees citizens from worrying about lawsuits when trying to save animals’ lives.

 The bill was introduced by Republican Assemblyman Marc Steinorth of Rancho Cucamonga and Miguel Santiago, a democrat from Los Angeles, according to the Times.

Steinorth thanked supporters of the Right to Rescue Act on his Facebook page.

“We're very excited about the lives this new law will save. Thank you to everyone who helped us raise awareness of this serious issue and showed their support. You will forever be family in my book,” he wrote.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Los Angeles district attorney's office demonstrated support for the new bill, according to the Times.

The Right to Rescue Act is a positive effort that will protect the lives of endangered animals in the future. Signing the bill into action was a smart move on the part of Governor Brown.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, PETA, KABC, Marc Steinorth/Facebook / Photo credit: MagiaFoto/Flickr

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