Keep Animals Out of Hot Cars

HB 1216, The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act introduced by Representative’s hot-carFrank Farry and Dom Costa + 33 co-sponsors has passed the full house unanimously and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Please call, write, email, or use social media to contact your State Senator to request their support of HB 1216. Your message can be short, stating simply “I am a constituent – please support HB 1216,  the Hot Car Bill.”

Senator Andy Dinniman + 12 co-sponsors have also introduced SB 636, a bi-partisan senate version. Request that your State Senator  support  SB 636.  Your message can be short, stating simply “I am a constituent – please support SB 636 –, the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act.”

HB 1216 and SB 636 will:

  • Allow a police officer, or humane officer to remove a dog or cat from an 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.
  •  Protect police officer, humane officer, or public safety professional who removes a dog or cat from an unattended vehicle from liability of any damages.
  • Require an officer who removes a dog or cat from an unattended vehicle to take it to a veterinary hospital or animal care clinic for a health screening and treatment. A conspicuous note will be left for the owner stating the officer’s information and the information for where to pick up the pet.
  • SB 636 will also make it a summary offense to confine a dog or cat in a car under conditions that jeopardize the pet’s health, and also adds other public safety professionals to the list of who can remove the animal.

FACTS ABOUT DOGS AND CATS LEFT IN HOT CARS:

Do only bad pet owners leave their pets in hot cars?

Pennsylvanians value their pets as family members, yet some mistakenly believe an animal can be comfortable or safe left unattended in a vehicle. This Act will raise awareness of the dangers of leaving pets in parked cars and prevent needless suffering.

How do animals tolerate extreme temperatures?

Pets’ normal body temperature is already higher than humans, and humidity of just 35% can slow or shut down their ability to evaporate moisture and control their body temperature. On a 72 degree day, a car’s internal temperature can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 80 degree day, a car’s internal temperature can shoot up to a sweltering 99 degrees in just 10 minutes. Lowering the window has been shown to have little effect on a car’s temperature.

Under what circumstances can an officer enter a vehicle?

Law enforcement should be empowered to take humane action to protect animals’ lives. This Act adds vehicle entry to an already existing law that allows police officers to enter a property to provide care or impound an animal believed to be a victim of neglect or living below minimum care standards. An un-attended vehicle clearly meets the conditions of (insert law for minimum are and temperature) and officers should feel comfortable making a decision on behalf of an animal’s welfare.

Is this an issue everyone can support?

Protecting animals from a prolonged, suffering death due to organ failure or heatstroke in a hot car is a problem we can all agree to prevent. Municipalities and state legislatures are taking action to empower law enforcement to protect animals in cars, and initiating campaigns to encourage citizens to make other choices about taking their personal pets in a vehicle that will be unattended. This Act is an important, non-partisan step toward achieving a more humane Pennsylvania.

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