Senate Passes Bill Allowing Emergency Responders to Remove Pets from Hot Cars

HARRISBURG – The Senate passed a measure this week that would provide civil immunity for emergency responders who rescue pets from hot cars, according to Senator Rich Alloway II (R-33).

House Bill 1216 would allow any law enforcement officer, animal control officer, humane society police officer or emergency responder to use reasonable force to enter a vehicle when they believe a cat or dog inside is in danger of imminent harm.

“Leaving a pet in a hot car is a terrible decision that can lead to serious illness or death in a matter of minutes, and emergency responders need more latitude in deciding how to deal with those situations,” Alloway said. “Public safety officers should not have to fear a lawsuit for hundreds of dollars in damages when they take action to save the life of a vulnerable, defenseless animal.”

Emergency responders would be required to make an effort to locate the driver of the motor vehicle prior to entry. They would also be required to leave notice on the car detailing the reason for entry, the responder’s name and contact information, and the location of the pet.

At least 25 states have laws that protect animals from being left in hot cars.

The legislation includes an amendment authored by Alloway that clarifies the responsibilities of pet owners, including providing food, water, shelter and veterinary care.

The bill also includes stiffer punishments for negligent dog owners when their animal kills or maims a service animal.

House Bill 1216 was approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

CONTACT:  Scot Pitzer (717) 787-4651; spitzer@pasen.gov.