LOS ANGELES—The proposed Assembly Bill 797 would provide legal immunity to anyone who damages a vehicle “in a good faith effort” to rescue a pet from dangerous conditions while trapped in a car, according to CBS LA. The bill was amended in senate on May 23, according to the California Legislative Information website.
The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Marc Steinorth and the Human Society of the United States. The existing law concerning the rescue of animals from a locked car authorizes peace officers, humane officers or animal control officers to take all the steps necessary to remove the animal from the vehicle if their safety is in immediate danger.
Assembly Bill 797 will expand this to a person, firefighters and emergency responders. Critics of the bill noted to CBS LA that the bill could invite legal ambiguity and liability questions for cases involving overzealous animal rights advocates or other people who may damage property without a cause.
Steinorth posted on his Facebook page, “#AB797 is getting lots of attention. Before you can break a car window to save an animal you must first check that all doors are locked, alert the police, and then use your sound judgement- is the animal in immediate danger? After these steps are taken, rendering aid should be a no brainier.”
Steinorth and Assemblymembers Ling Ling Chang and Kristen Olsen created a video of them doing the Hot Car Challenge to show people the effect a locked car has on animals. When the outside temperature was 92 degrees the inside temperature of the car rose to over 100 degrees within eight minutes.
“The Right to Rescue Act will save lives,” said Steinorth in a media advisory sent to Canyon News. “We all know how hot our cars get sitting in the heat, but so many people don’t recognize that leaving your dog in the car for even a few minutes in these conditions can be fatal. More than anything, we hope that AB 797 will raise awareness of this danger so pet owners remember to leave their dogs at home.”