On Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 797, the Right to Rescue Act, allowing Californians to break into vehicles in order to rescue animals trapped inside of hot cars.
“We’re very excited about the lives this new law will save,” Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), who co-authored AB 797 with Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), posted in a statement on Facebook on Saturday. “Thank you to everyone who helped us raise awareness of this serious issue and showed their support. You will forever be family in my book.”
AB 797 passed unanimously with a vote of 63-0 on August 25 before being signed by Gov. Brown on Saturday.
California’s State Senate had posted pictures of themselves on social media in a cardboard cutout of a car with a dog inside of it to help spread the word about the bill last month:
— Joel Anderson (@JoelAndersonCA) September 1, 2016
— Connie Leyva (@SenatorLeyva) August 17, 2016
— Jennifer Fearing (@JenniferFearing) August 17, 2016
According to the Associated Press, the bill was introduced after a series of dogs died after being left inside of closed cars on hot days.
This past June, a police K-9 died in Porterville, California after after the engine of the police car he was in shut off and turned off the air conditioning.
Local ABC News affiliate ABF 30 reported that the Belgian Malinois, named Idol, died when his partner placed him in the car so he could receive extra air conditioning and cool down after running during a training exercise while the officer completed some work in his home. However, since the engine died, the car’s warning system reportedly did not activate and Idol was found lifeless in the vehicle.
The measure states that if a Good Samaritan follows the steps listed below, they will be protected from criminal prosecution and from being held liable for civil damages:
- Check that the car cannot be opened.
- [Perceive that] the animal must be suffering harm or in imminent danger.
- Contact law enforcement.
- Remain with animal in safe location until law enforcement arrives.
- Don’t use more force than necessary to rescue the animal.
The Right to Rescue Act was supported by the Human Society of the United States and Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz