SACRAMENTO – Summer is gone, Fall is upon us, but it’s still hot! A new law allows citizens in California to take action to save distressed animals locked in hot cars.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed multiple bills into law at the state’s capital Friday.
Among the new legislation was AB-797, which allows concerned citizens to “take all steps reasonably necessary” to remove an animal that is in imminent danger inside a motor vehicle.
As long as the good samaritan has contacted 911 before forcing entry into a vehicle and reasonably believes that the animal is in imminent danger of being harmed, a person can take necessary action to save an animal.
The new law says that the animal must immediately be turned over to authorities at the scene for treatment.
The legislation revised California penal code section 597.7 and civil code section 43.100.
Previous law stated that only a peace officer or animal control officer was authorized to take steps to remove an animal in distress, such as breaking a window to free the animal.
The new law expands this authority to firefighters or other emergency responders and exempts a citizen acting “in good faith” to free an animal in a “reasonable” amount of danger.
The new law also exempts good samaritans from criminal or civil liability due to damages incurred during a rescue, as long as it meets the criteria.
You can read the full text of AB-797 here.