California Bill Would Allow Bystanders To Break Into Cars To Save Dogs In Distress

If Assembly Bill 797 becomes law, bystanders would be allowed to break into a vehicle to save an animal without repercussions.

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Hundreds of dogs die each year due to heat exhaustion from being in hot cars on sunny days. This dog survived after the owner returned to the vehicle. Via  exercisecompassion/YouTube
Hundreds of dogs die each year due to heat exhaustion from being in hot cars on sunny days. This dog survived after the owner returned to the vehicle. Via exercisecompassion/YouTube
John Virata

If you happen upon a dog or other animal in a car in the state of California, and that dog is in distress due to heat, cold or other factor, you would be able to legally gain entry into the vehicle, without civil liability to save the animal, under a bill introduced by the California State Legislature, according to CBS 13 Sacramento.

Current law allows a police officer, humane officer or animal control officer to forcibly remove an animal from a motor vehicle if the animal’s safety is in danger. Assembly Bill 797 would amend Section 597.7 of the Penal Code, relating to trespass. It would essentially give bystanders who happen upon an animal in distress in a motor vehicle the right, without repercussions, to forcibly gain entry into a motor vehicle to save an animal from harm, according to the California Legislative Information website.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, hundreds of pets die every year in hot cars from heat exhaustion. The association notes that in just 10 minutes, the temperature inside a car can rise 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and in 20 minutes that temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than outside the vehicle.

In just a few minutes, the temperature inside a motor vehicle can reach more than 100º F under ideal conditions. Via Jan Null, CCM; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University/AVMA.org

In just a few minutes, the temperature inside a motor vehicle can reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit under ideal conditions. Via Jan Null, CCM; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University/AVMA.org

Bystanders wouldn’t just be able to smash a window to rescue a dog in a hot car, though.

“They have to check that all the doors are locked and they have to contact law enforcement prior to breaking in and rescuing an animal,” Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) told CBS 13 Sacramento.

The animal would then have to immediately be surrendered to law enforcement, animal control or other emergency responder who responds to the scene.

The bill is currently being considered by the state’s Senate judiciary committee. Florida and Tennessee recently enacted similar bills.

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