PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new law allows police officers and firefighters to break into cars to save animals in Pennsylvania. The legislation seeks to protect animals in emegency situations when they’ve been locked in cars in concerning climates.
The legislation, House Bill 1216, was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf and is the second such type of law to increase protections for animals in the state.
Now, officers and firefighters can remove a dog or a cat from an unattended vehicle “after a reasonable search for the operator of the vehicle.”
“Today, I am proud to sign this bill and build on the progress we have made for animals in the commonwealth,” Gov. Wolf said at the time the bill was signed.
The law also states that the emergency responder will not be liable for damages done to a vehicle in order to remove a dog or cat. The previous law allowed for officers and firefighters to enter a property if an animal was believed to be a victim of neglect and has extended property to be inclusive of a motor vehicle.
If a dog or cat is removed from a car, the law states that the emergency responder must leave a note stating the circumstances, detailing the officer’s information, and explaining where to pick up the pet.
According to the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, it only takes 5-10 minutes for a pet to get heatstroke in a hot vehicle and it only takes up to 6 minutes for a dog to die in extreme heat when left in a vehicle.
It’s the first time in nearly 30 years that laws were strengthened to protect animals in the state.
The law is strictly for police officers and firefighters and does not extend to private citizens.
The law went into effect on Christmas Eve.