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Protect Companion Animals from Exposure and Hazards in Parked Cars

Protect Companion Animals from Exposure and Hazards in Parked Cars

Name: Preventing Injury and Death to Pets in Parked Vehicles

Each year, hundreds of companion animals will tragically lose their lives when their owners leave them unattended in parked vehicles in extreme heat or cold, or in the presence of other dangers. Many pet owners are unaware that even on a mild 70-degree day, the inside of a parked vehicle can reach the temperature of an oven within minutes, causing severe dehydration and even resulting in an animal’s death. Sadly, rolling down the windows of a car has little to no effect on the interior temperature of a car. Conditions can be equally dangerous to companion animals on cold winter days.

This proposed model law incorporates a Good Samaritan provision that would allow any citizen to remove a pet from a car under certain dangerous circumstances when a first responder or law enforcement officer has been notified, but has not yet arrived. A first responder has full immunity for rescuing an animal, although they may not search the vehicle once it is open. 

In addition to providing the rescuing individual with immunity from liability for damage to the car, the model law would impose criminal penalties on individuals who leave a companion animal in a vehicle in hot or cold weather. While the penalty is relatively small, it would help to educate the public about the dangers of leaving animals unattended. At the same time, it would offer law enforcement officers and members of the public a clear path for action in saving the life of an animal left in a car. Without these clear provisions of law, many people are afraid to take action to save an animal.  

 

Call to Actions:

  1. If your state does not already have a law or pending legislation, please contact your State Representative and Senator and urge them to introduce legislation on this issue.
  2. Spread the word! Share this page with your social network.

 

Recipients

  • Your State Senator or Senators
  • Your State Representative or Representatives

Contact

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Message

Please Protect Pets Left in Vehicles from Imminent Danger

Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to ask you to sponsor legislation that will protect the health and safety of companion animals. Each year, individuals leave pets in unattended vehicles under dangerous conditions such as extreme heat, extreme cold or without proper ventilation.

For your convenience, a model law is included below.

The best way to protect companion animals against imminent dangers is to enact a law that at least gives them a better chance at rescue. Owners may not be aware that temperatures inside a car can reach dangerous levels within minutes even on a temperate day, or that other hazards can face an unattended car and the animals in it.

I hope that you will consider introducing legislation in the next legislative session to protect companion animals from the dangers of being left unattended in vehicles.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Model Law
Sec. 1. Purpose
Every year, hundreds of pets will tragically lose their lives when their owners leave them alone in parked vehicles in extreme temperatures. Many pet owners are unaware that even on a temperate day, the inside of a parked vehicle can reach the temperature of an oven within minutes, causing severe dehydration and even resulting in an animal's death. Conditions can be equally dangerous to animals on cold winter days. Enacting legislation to directly combat this issue will spread awareness to pet owners and save hundreds of companion animal lives each year.

Sec. 2. Definitions
For the purposes of this Act:

(a) "Extreme cold" means an extremely cold temperature, inside or outside of a vehicle, that could endanger an animal's health or well-being.

(b) "Extreme heat" means a high temperature, inside or outside of a vehicle, that could endanger an animal's health or well-being.

(c) "Person" means an individual, partnership, corporation, association, governmental entity, or other legal entity.

(d) "Unattended vehicle" means a vehicle that is out of sight of the owner or operator.

(e) "Vehicle" means a car, truck, camper or other form of transportation in which an animal can be transported.

Sec. 3. Provision
(a) A person shall not confine an animal in an unattended vehicle in a manner that could reasonably be expected to threaten the health and well-being of the animal due to conditions that include, but are not limited to, extreme heat, extreme cold or lack of ventilation.

(b) After making reasonable efforts to locate the vehicle's owner, an animal control officer, law enforcement officer or firefighter may enter a vehicle by any reasonable means to protect the health and safety of an animal who is endangered by confinement in a vehicle. A law enforcement officer, animal control officer or firefighter may enter the vehicle for the sole purpose of assisting the animal and may not search the vehicle or seize items found in the vehicle unless otherwise permitted by law.

(c) An animal control officer, law enforcement officer or firefighter who removes or otherwise retrieves an animal under this section shall:
1. Leave written notice in a secure and conspicuous location on or in the vehicle bearing the officer's or firefighter's name, title and the address of the location where the animal may be retrieved; and
2. Take the animal to a veterinary hospital or animal clinic for a health screening and treatment.

(d) A law enforcement officer, animal control officer or firefighter who removes or otherwise retrieves an animal from a vehicle under this subsection (b) is immune from criminal or civil liability that might otherwise result from the removal.

(e) After making reasonable efforts to locate the vehicle's owner, a person not authorized under subsection (b) may enter a vehicle using reasonable means to protect the health and safety of an animal; provided, however, that the person:
1. Determines that there are no reasonable means of egress for the animal from the vehicle;
2. Has a good faith and reasonable belief, based upon known circumstances, that entry into to the vehicle is reasonably necessary to prevent imminent danger or harm to the animal;
3. Attempts to contact a law enforcement officer who can immediately act to retrieve the animal;
4. Shall not use more force than reasonably necessary to enter the vehicle and remove the animal; and
5. Remains with the animal in a safe location in reasonable proximity to the vehicle until law enforcement or another first responder arrives.
(f) A person who removes an animal from a vehicle pursuant to subsection (e) is immune from criminal or civil liability that might otherwise result from the removal.

Sec. 4. Penalties
(a) A violation of section 3 shall be punished by a fine of not more than $150 for a first offense, by a fine of not more than $300 for a second offense and by a fine of not more than $500 for a third or subsequent offense.

(b) The owner may retrieve the animal removed by law enforcement only after payment of all charges that have accrued for the maintenance, care, medical treatment and impoundment of the animal.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]