Good news for dogs and the people who love them: Over the weekend, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill giving concerned citizens permission to break into a hot car if the pooch inside appears to be in danger, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Under "The Right to Rescue Act," or Assembly Bill 797, individuals are required to report the situation to law enforcement officials if they think a car-bound animal is threatened. But if the threat is immediate, the vehicle is locked, and officers are taking too long to get there, concerned citizens can now smash windows (or use other means of force) to set the dogs free without fear of prosecution, ABC 10 reports. (Of course, it's important to think of both your own and the pet's safety when deciding the most effective method of removal.) Rescuers won't be punished for their actions, but they will be required to remain at the scene of the incident until authorities arrive.
The bill comes in response to a string of incidents in which dogs died after their owners left them in closed vehicles on hot days. It was drafted by California Assembly members including Marc Steinorth, Ling Ling Chang, and Kristin Olsen, who even filmed themselves sitting in a hot car for more than 20 minutes to demonstrate how dangerous it was to leave a dog in one, according to ABC 7.
"We're very excited about the lives this new law will save," Steinorth said in a Facebook statement. "Thank you to everyone who helped us raise awareness of this serious issue and showed their support."
The Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights groups support the bill—but some people are worried that dog lovers might take things a little too far under the new law.
"I think that should just be logic," dog owner April Rocha told ABC 7 in May, when the bill was first proposed. "If you see a dog in distress, break the window if you can't find the owner. I think some people might take it a little far, like they see a dog in there and go a little nuts. I think it depends on the condition, but I think people may take advantage and go extreme."
California is one of nearly two dozen states with some type of "hot car" law on the books.
[h/t The Los Angeles Times]
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