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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: July 31, 2015 11:27 AM
From: Representative Frank A. Farry and Rep. Kevin J. Schreiber
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation – Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act
In the near future, we plan on introducing legislation that would Amend Title 18 (Animal Cruelty) to prohibit the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health and well-being of the animal.

On an 80 degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 99 degrees in just ten minutes, 109 degrees within twenty minutes, and 114 degrees within thirty minutes. Animals do not sweat like humans do, so they have no way to cool themselves down in hot conditions, causing irreversible organ damage, heat stroke, brain damage, and in extreme cases, death.

There are currently 17 states that have laws that protect animals from being left in hot cars, with Tennessee being the most recent state to pass such a law. The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act is mostly based off the California legislation, as it is vital to grant police officers and public safety personnel greater authority to act to save a dog or cat in distress if necessary. It is against the law to leave a child in a hot car, so it should also be illegal to confine a dog or cat in a hot car, as animals deteriorate faster than humans when exposed to extreme heat.

We have worked closely with the Humane Society of the United States to create the policies in this bill, and there will be a version of the bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Teplitz.

Under the proposed legislation, it will be a summary offense to confine a dog or cat in a car under conditions that jeopardize the pet’s health. A police officer or other public safety professional or humane officer would have the authority to remove the dog or cat from the unattended motor vehicle if they believe the dog or cat is suffering and is endangered after a reasonable search for the owner or operator of the vehicle. The police officer or other public safety professional or humane officer who removes a cat or dog from an unattended vehicle will not be held liable for any damages.

If an officer removes a dog or cat from an unattended motor vehicle, the officer is required to take it to a veterinary hospital or animal care clinic for a health screening and treatment. The officer who removed the dog or cat must leave a conspicuous note stating the officer’s information and the information for where to pick up the pet.

Please join us in prohibiting the confinement of dogs and cats in hot cars to protect them from serious and unnecessary damage to their health and safety. Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as HB1516