Gov. Tom Wolf recently signed legislation empowering law enforcement to take action to prevent the needless suffering of dogs and cats left unattended in cars. House Bill 1216, the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act, is the second major piece of legislation signed by the governor that increases protections for animals throughout the commonwealth.
“A few months ago, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the first significant strengthening of Pennsylvania’s animal protection statutes in nearly 30 years with the enactment of Act 10 of 2017, which included Libre’s Law,” said Governor Wolf. “Today, I am proud to sign this bill and build on the progress we have made for animals in the commonwealth. Thank you to the advocates and legislators who made this possible.”
This law adds vehicle entry to an already existing law that allows officers to enter a property to provide care or impound an animal believed to be a victim of neglect or living below minimum care standards.
This new law raises awareness of the dangers of leaving pets in parked cars and empowers law enforcement to make decisions on behalf of an animal’s welfare by:
• Allowing a police office, humane officer, animal control officer or other public safety professionals to remove a dog or cat from an unattended motor vehicle if they believe the dog or cat is in imminent danger or harm after a reasonable search for the operator of the vehicle
• Protecting a police officer, humane officer, or public safety professional who removes a dog or cat from an unattended vehicle from liability for any damages.
• Requiring that an officer who removes a dog or cat from an unattended vehicle must leave a conspicuous note for the owner stating the officer’s information and the information for where to pick up the pet.
• Updating the definition of neglect, prohibiting 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.
House Bill 1216 also expands the types of service dogs guaranteed protection in housing and public places.