New “Hot Dog In Car” Law Will Grant First Responders Immunity

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
A new bill in Pennsylvania sets out actions first responders can take to save pets who may be overheating in cars, and allows officials to charge pet owners for leaving animals in vehicles.

Pennsylvania Representative Frank Farry recently introduced a bill that will hopefully save pets from being left in hot cars, and dying as a result. The bill’s official name is the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act, and is unofficially being called the “Hot Dog In Car” bill. It not only allows police to charge pet owners who leave their animals in hot cars with a summary offense, but enables first responders and humane society officials to break into cars under rescue efforts without concern for any liability in doing so.

Related: Can Tesla’s Cabin Overheat Tech Save Dogs in Hot Cars?

Police Officers, firefighters and humane society officials who break into hot cars to rescue animals will be given immunity from any civil or criminal action taken against them, thus allowing even more chance to save dogs who would otherwise die in extreme temperatures.

The law was unanimously passed in the Pennsylvania House, with hopes that it will be fully passed by the Senate in the fall. Pennsylvania would then join 26 other states who have similar laws that look to protect animals left in cars in extreme weather conditions.

First Responders will be required to make a ‘reasonable search’ for the owners before doing whatever needed to be done to save the animal, and then required to leave a note for the owner that they’ve taken the pet to a local animal hospital. Police officials may also charge the pet owner with a nontraffic citation that has fines up to $300 or 90 days in jail. Representative Farry says the point of the bill is not to profit off those who leave pets in cars, but to raise awareness for what can be done to prevent pet deaths due to being left in cars. Rep. Farry is a volunteer fire chief and says that people sometimes just don’t know how severe the damage can be, including the death of a family pet.

Related: 5 Ways to Keep Your Cat Cool This Summer

Pennsylvania Humane Society director Kristen Tullo says that this bill will lead the way for education and be a strong measure toward prevention of future situations where pets are in danger. It will work hand in hand with the recent Libre Law signed into action that regulates animal cruelty charges and penalties.

Most importantly, Rep. Farry says, first responders will no longer remain helpless when it comes to protecting all the citizens of the state.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

More by Lori Ennis