State House approves bill protecting pets left unattended in hot cars

HARRISBURG – The state House of Representatives Friday approved legislation to protect pets left unattended in hot cars, according to a press release.

The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act (House bill 1216), authored by Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks), would prohibit the confinement of a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger the health of the animal. The violation would be considered a summary offense.

“The heat of summer can be dangerous for animals, especially those left inside hot cars,: Farry said in the release. “Every year, countless animals die after being left behind while their owners work, visit, shop or run other errands. 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.

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

“The Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act protects animals,” said Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania 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.”