You may remember this LovePets article where we documented how 16 states introduced legislation to reduce the number of dogs left to die in hot cars. Today, we are delighted to direct your attention towards a further bill, which was this week unanimously approved by the Massachusetts Senate.
According to the bill, passers-by who spot a dog, or any other pet, locked inside a car on a hot day would legally be allowed to smash a window in order to save the pet's life, having first checked the doors to ensure they're locked, and making an effort to find a law enforcement officer. The passer-by would then be required to stay with the pet until a first responder or police officer arrived on the scene. In addition, the bill would grant police officers, firefighters, and animal control officers the same opportunity to rescue trapped pets, as long as "reasonable efforts" were made to locate the animal's pet parents.
In addition to providing members of the public and first responders with immunity from criminal or civil liability following such action, the bill also proposes bringing a civil penalty against anyone found to have left their pet in a hot car, comparing their actions with animal cruelty and negligence.
There is currently much debate surrounding the issue. "Many animal control officers have expressed concern that waiting to remove an animal from a vehicle until the animal is suffering enough to be a violation of the cruelty statute is inhumane, wrong, and can still be too late for the animal," the MSPCA-Angell organization notes on its website.
This latest bill is to join two others, which will now head before the House in search of approval; the first aims to restrict the sale of puppies and kittens by pet shops, as well as banning unlicensed breeders from dealing with the stores, while the second gives landlords new responsibilities towards pets abandoned by their tenants. We can only hope that other states will soon follow suit.