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Proposed Amendment Allows Passerbys to Save Pets in Hot Cars

As the weather starts to heat up across the nation, it is becoming increasingly dangerous to leave any living creature inside an enclosed car. There have been one too many cases of pets dying after being left in hot cars while their owners go shopping or run errands. Now, proposed legislation in New York may allow people to help save pets trapped in cars. The amendment would protect people who break car windows to help pets suffering heat stroke or worse. While similar laws are in place for children in locked cars, there isn't anything on record for those who want to help dogs or other pets. The bill requires the person who removes the pet to leave a note on the vehicle and turn the animal over to the Humane Society.

The amendment is sponsored by Assemblymen John D. Ceretto, and Michael P. Kearns and others. Ceretto said of the amendment “You could not believe the response throughout the whole country that I’ve gotten from animal-lovers to this. I’ve been on radio shows from Vermont, on blogs on Long Island, and gotten responses from California asking why this isn’t national.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Executive Director Barbara Carr said her department gets calls about dogs locked in hot cars once or twice a week. “About 30 percent of the time, the dogs are in fairly high distress."

Usually, the SPCA sends out an officer to determine the internal temperature of the car. Car also said “Cops can pop the car doors, so we do not break the window. If the owner comes and the animal is in distress, we’re seizing it, and we don’t want any problems with the owner anyhow.” New York's Amherst Police Department Assistant Chief Charles Cohen advised calling the police and not breaking the glass. “We do not recommend breaking windows to rescue a dog for a variety of reasons — the dog could attack you, you could get sued, you could hurt yourself on the broken glass, so that’s a bad idea."

Ceretto said breaking the window should be a last resort. “These are extreme situations where a dog absolutely needs help and there is nothing else the individual can do but break that window and save that life. And right now, under New York state law, you could be charged as a criminal for that.” On its website, The Humane Society says that if a pet is in a locked car, passersby should notify nearby businesses and the authorities and take down the car's make, model and license plate number.

Photo: Bark Post

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