2016 was rough (ruff) for many of us! Luckily, there's four new laws that will go into effect on January 1st, 2017 that will benefit the animals in our lives. Let's check them out one by one:
Rescuing Animals Locked in Cars in the Heat/Cold Any member of the public may now rescue an animal locked in a hot car! YES! I think MANY of us are excited about this one.
However, before you grab your baseball bat and start bashing in windows, there are very specific requirements you must abide by in order to avoid charges being filed against you. (Here is the link to the actual bill if you would like to read it yourself.)
You must "hold[ ] a reasonable belief that the animal’s safety is in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal."
You must "Determine[ ] the vehicle is locked or there is otherwise no reasonable manner for the animal to be removed from the vehicle."
You must "[have] contacted a local law enforcement agency, the fire department, animal control, or the “911” emergency service prior to forcibly entering the vehicle." (This is vitally important or you may be charged by the police!!)
You must "Remain[ ] with the animal in a safe location, out of the elements but reasonably close to the vehicle, until a peace officer, humane officer, animal control officer, or another emergency responder arrives."
Lastly, you must "Immediately turn[ ] the animal over to a representative from law enforcement, animal control, or another emergency responder who responds to the scene." So, unfortunately, you can't find a dog or cat in a car in extreme weather, break open the window, wait for the owner to return and tell them off OR run off with the dog/cat, aka steal the dog/cat. You have to follow the law or you can be held liable for damages. However, if you follow the rules of the law, you can make a difference and perhaps save an animal's life. The ramifications for the owner under the new law will be:
"A first conviction for violation of this section is punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100) per animal."
Regardless of whether it's the first violation or repeated violations - "If the animal suffers great bodily injury, a violation of this section is punishable by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both a fine and imprisonment."
"Any subsequent violation of this section, regardless of injury to the animal, is also punishable by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both a fine and imprisonment." Since this post contained quite a bit of info, I'll go over the other new laws in the next post! Be careful out there while rescuing the pups and kitties!