Law will protect pets unattended in hot cars

Rep. Frank Farry authored the The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act (House Bill 1216)

By Tom Waring

The Times

The House of Representatives approved legislation, authored by state Rep. Frank Farry, to protect pets left unattended in hot cars.

Animal advocates: Pictured are (from left) Rep. Dom Costa, Mary Jane McNamee (Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association), Sen. Andy Dinniman, Rep. Frank Farry, Kristen Tullo (Humane Society of the United States), Megan Baylor (PVMA), and (back row) Adrian Tindell (AAA Central Penn).

The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act (House Bill 1216) would prohibit the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health and well-being of the animal. This violation would be a summary offense.

“The heat of summer can be dangerous for animals, especially those left inside hot cars. Every year, countless animals die after being left behind while their owners work, visit, shop or run other errands,” Farry said. “These deaths are tragic and entirely preventable.”

Under the bill, a police officer, humane officer or other public safety professional would have the authority to remove the dog or cat from the unattended motor vehicle if the officer believes the dog or cat is suffering and endangered after a reasonable search for the owner or operator of the vehicle. The officer who removes a cat or dog from an unattended vehicle would not be held liable for any damages.

“Too often, we see pets left in hot cars as their owner runs an errand,” Farry said. “You may think you’re being quick, but it only takes a few minutes for the inside of the car to reach nearly 100 degrees on a hot day, even with the windows cracked. Animals left in these conditions face irreversible organ damage, heat stroke, brain damage and, in extreme cases, death.”

The Humane Society of the United States, Fraternal Order of Police, the American Automobile Association, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and emergency service organizations support the legislation and helped craft the language.

“The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act protects animals,” said Kristen Tullo, state director, the Humane Society of the United States. “Pennsylvanians value their pets as family members, yet some mistakenly believe an animal can be comfortable or safe left unattended in a vehicle. This act will raise awareness of the dangers of leaving pets in parked cars and prevent needless suffering.” ••