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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 1, 2017 01:56 PM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act
I plan on re-introducing SB 977, 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 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, like small children, deteriorate faster than adults when exposed to extreme heat.

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. The operator of the vehicle from which the cat or dog was removed shall be responsible for any costs incurred by the veterinary hospital or animal care center.

Please join me 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 SB636