Huge kudos to the state of Florida for becoming only the second state in the country to make it legal for good samaritans to bust unattended pets out of hot cars! Tennessee was the first state with such a law. It went into effect last summer.
House Bill 131 unanimously passed both Florida’s House and Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott last week.
The law, which is now in effect, allows folks who rescue pets immune from civil liability for damage the vehicle. (This immunity also now applies to the rescue of “vulnerablepersons,” like kids and adults with mental or physical impairments.)
You can’t go around swinging a hammer willy nilly, though. To comply with the law, a would-be rescuer has to first check and make sure the car isn’t unlocked before breaking windows and then alert the authorities, as well as stay with the rescued pet (or person) until law enforcement or first responders arrive.
The American Veterinary Medical Association puts the figure at “hundreds” — and gives a stark warning about how quickly a car can get perilously hot:
“The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30º F…and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your vehicle! Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperaturethat puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn’t seem hot to you. And cracking the windows makes no difference. ‘
Lora Dunn, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, says that she hopes other states in this pet-loving country will follow Florida and Tennessee’s lead.
“The Animal Legal Defense Fund applauds Florida for empowering citizens to help animals trapped in a hot car from this immediate danger if law enforcement has also been notified of the situation We encourage other states to follow the example of Florida and Tennessee and help save animals’ lives.”
For those outside of Tennessee or Florida: If you’re concerned about a pet — or person — you see left in a vehicle, and want to stay within the bounds of the law, call 911.
And be sure to bark loudly at your state lawmakers if you want to see a law like this one enacted in your state.
Here’s a frightening video to bring those points home:
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