|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
The recent heat wave can be a death sentence for an animal left unattended in a hot vehicle, where the temperature can reach triple digits in just a matter of minutes. Did you know that Pennsylvania has a new law to help prevent dogs and cats from suffering that kind of abuse?
Signed into law last fall, the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act (Act 104 of 2018) prohibits the confinement of an animal in an unattended motor vehicle in a manner that would endanger its health and well-being. Violating the statute is a summary offense.
Under the new law, a police officer, humane officer or other public safety professional has the authority to remove the animal from the unattended motor vehicle if the officer believes it is suffering and endangered after a reasonable search for the vehicle’s driver. The officer is not liable for any damages caused during the rescue attempt.
If an officer removes a dog or cat from an unattended motor vehicle, the officer is required to take reasonable steps to ensure or restore its well-being. The officer must also leave a note with contact information including where to pick up the pet.
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.
This new law also raises awareness of the dangers of leaving pets in parked cars and limits needless suffering. At least 25 other states have similar laws in place.
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office