As we go through these hot summer days, PennDOT is reminding the public that it’s illegal for pet owners to leave their dogs or cats inside a vehicle.
Last year, Governor Tom Wolf signed the “Hot Car Bill,” which gives police officers and first responders the authority to enter a vehicle to retrieve a cat or dog that is in distress. That could mean breaking a window to get into the car.
The law does make it clear that an officer must have a “good-faith and reasonable belief” that the animal is in imminent danger…and they also should make a reasonable effort to locate the driver first. This law does not give civilians the authority to take this type of action. If you see a dog or cat in a motor vehicle that appears to be in distress, contact the local authorities. Do not enter the motor vehicle yourself.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, leaving a window cracked doesn’t make much- if any- of a difference in terms of the temperature of a hot car. On hot days, officials say temperatures inside parked vehicles can climb to 140 degrees in less than one hour.
- Call 911 and if possible, citizens should stay with the vehicle until authorities arrive and write down pertinent information like the time, location and make and model of the vehicle.
- Do not confront the owner should he or she return to the vehicle before authorities arrive — just jot down the time and description of the person so authorities can attempt a follow-up investigation.