Californians won’t have to worry about being sued or arrested for breaking into a hot unattended car to rescue an animal under a new law taking effect in 2017.
It takes just 10 minutes on an 80 degree day for temperatures inside a car to reach 120 degrees. Most people say if they saw a distressed animal trapped inside a parked car on a hot day they would take action to save it.
“They’re like our children," says Yvonne Phun of Sacramento, as she loads her dog Bear into the car outside a pet store. "I don’t think anyone should be punished for trying to save their dog."
But in Los Angeles, bystanders watched a dog die in a hot car while waiting for law enforcement to arrive.
“Law enforcement asked, 'how come you guys didn’t break the window or try to get into the vehicle?' and the bystanders told them they were afraid of being arrested or being sued," says Dan Felizzatto with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. The office was one of the sponsors of the bill.
The new law protects people from any liability. Law enforcement must be called first, the animal must be in imminent danger, and people can’t use more force than necessary to rescue the animal.