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Californians May Now Legally Break Into Hot Cars To Rescue Trapped Animals

This dog looks pretty chill, tbh. (Michelle Ress/Flickr)
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On Saturday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that allows Californians to legally break into hot cars and rescue any animals trapped inside who are at risk of overheating, according to the L.A. Times. Until now, breaking in to rescue a hot animal wasn't technically legal, and would-be-rescuers were instructed to wait, instead, until emergency personnel arrived, according to KXTV.

Assembly Bill 797, by contrast, allows regular people to break into vehicles after they call emergency personnel to the scene. If the car is locked, the windows up and the emergency responders aren't arriving fast enough, it is now legal to break inside to free the trapped animal, without risk of liability. The bill also requires whoever rescues the animal to remain at the scene until emergency responders arrive.

The bill's legislative counsel digest, written before it was passed, can clarify:

The bill would exempt a person from criminal liability for actions taken reasonably and in good faith to remove an animal from a vehicle under the circumstances described above if the person satisfies specified conditions, including immediately turning the animal over to a representative from law enforcement, animal control, or other emergency responder who responds to the scene. The bill would exempt a person from civil liability for property damage or trespass to a motor vehicle if the property damage or trespass occurred while the person was rescuing an animal pursuant to these provisions.
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A.B. 797 was sponsored by Assemblymembers Marc Steinorth, from Rancho Cucamonga, and Miguel Santiago, from Los Angeles, after several incidents where dogs died after their owners locked them inside a car on a hot day."We're very excited about the lives this new law will save," Steinorth said in a Facebook statement on Saturday. "Thank you to everyone who helped us raise awareness of this serious issue and showed their support."