Pennsylvania lawmakers propose bill to help save pets left in hot cars

HARRISBURG, Pa. --  Today kicks off the start of summer and officials met in Harrisburg to discuss how to better protect our furry, four-legged friends in the heat.

When it is warm outside, you may be hot, and your pet is too, especially if it is left in a car alone, but lawmakers are working to protect pets and the people who may have to rescue them from a car in extreme heat.

On a hot summer day, cars become hotboxes, and pets cannot protect themselves from the heat.

"He would get anxious. He would overheat very quickly. It's actually worse than what would happen to us because he can't sweat," said Dr. Mary Jane McNamee.

Dr. Mary Jane McNamee is a veterinarian who rescued her dog, Simon. Outside in the summer sun at the Capitol, Simon was getting hot. Dr. McNamee and officials showed how to cool down a hot pet; heat is amplified in a stationary car, window open or not.

"It can happen in temperatures as low 75 and 80 degrees if the relative humidity is high, and there's direct sunlight coming in the car," added Dr. McNamee.

House Bill 1216 or the the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act looks to protect first responders who may break into cars to rescue pets. Representative Frank Farry introduced it. He's also a fire chief and says he gets hot pet calls a lot.

"If you're suffering heat stroke, you're able to call 9-1-1; the pets don't have that ability," said Representative Farry.

The bill sets standards for first responders when they make a pet rescue and would protect them from a lawsuit.

"Right now, if I go and break out a window of a vehicle to save someone's pet, they can actually civilly sue me, the fire department, and what not," explained Representative Farry.

Law enforcement officials tell me the best thing to do if you see a hot pet in a car -- call 9-1-1, and try to find the car's owner, and add it's never okay to leave a pet in the car without someone with it.

The bill would not protect you from a law suit; that's why officials recommend calling 9-1-1 if you see a pet suffering from the heat in a car.