Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1216, or the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act, which enables law enforcement officers to enter unattended motor vehicles in the event that a dog or cat is locked inside in sweltering temperatures. Voted in unanimously by the House and Senate, this bill amends existing animal welfare laws by giving law enforcement officers, humane officers, or animal control officers the authority to enter an unattended vehicle if they believe the animal is in imminent danger. The officers are also protected from any liability if damage must be done to the vehicle to get the animal out safely.
After hundreds of dogs and cats have died in hot cars, state lawmakers have been making hot car laws a priority in congress. 28 other states currently have laws that forbid people from leaving animals unattended in a confined vehicle in dangerous conditions or provide civil protections to people who rescue animals from hot cars.
Even on a seemingly cool day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise upwards of twenty degrees every ten minutes if the sun is shining. Since dogs and cats cannot sweat like humans to stay cool, their bodies cannot withstand high temperatures for even short periods of time— a short trip into the grocery store or a quick errand could prove to be deadly for an animal locked in a vehicle. Studies have also shown that keeping a window open does little to change the vehicle’s internal temperature. The best way to keep animals from suffering in hot cars is to never leave them alone in the car in the first place!
Take Action: Take a moment to thank Governor Wolf for signing this bill into law!