As the weather grows warmer, pets left in cars face serious danger of overheating and potentially dying. Now, proposed legislation in New York could help passersby save pets trapped in cars.
The amendment would protect people who break car windows to save pets who are in imminent danger, The Buffalo News reported. Though similar laws are in place for children locked in cars, no state has legislation that protects people who want to help dogs or other pets.
The bill would require the person who removes the pet to leave a note on the vehicle and turn the animal over to the Humane Society.
Assemblymen John D. Ceretto, and Michael P. Kearns, have joined with other co-sponsors to push the amendment, which was proposed earlier in June, forward.
“You could not believe the response throughout the whole country that I’ve gotten from animal-lovers to this,” Ceretto said. “I’ve been on radio shows from Vermont, on blogs on Long Island, and gotten responses from California asking why this isn’t national.”
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Executive Director Barbara Carr said her department gets calls about dogs locked in hot cars once or twice a week. “About 30 percent of the time, the dogs are in fairly high distress,” she said. Typically, the SPCA sends out an officer to determine the internal temperature of the vehicle. The officers then call the police.
“Cops can pop the car doors, so we do not break the window,” Carr said. “If the owner comes and the animal is in distress, we’re seizing it, and we don’t want any problems with the owner anyhow.”
New York's Amherst Police Department Assistant Chief Charles Cohen advised calling the police and not breaking the glass. “We do not recommend breaking windows to rescue a dog for a variety of reasons — the dog could attack you, you could get sued, you could hurt yourself on the broken glass, so that’s a bad idea,” he said.
Ceretto said it was important breaking the window is a last resort. “These are extreme situations where a dog absolutely needs help and there is nothing else the individual can do but break that window and save that life,” he said. “And right now, under New York state law, you could be charged as a criminal for that.”
The Humane Society says on its website that if a pet is in a locked car, passersby should notify nearby businesses and the authorities and take down the car's make, model and license plate number.
Image via Matt Biddulph/Flickr