Californians Now Can Legally Break Into Cars To Save Pets In Distress

A new law enables bystanders to break into a car to save an animal if police do not arrive fast enough.

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The temperature inside a car can go up 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Via dizainera/Thinkstock
John Virata

A bill introduced in the California Assembly essentially giving bystanders the right, without legal repercussions, to break into a locked car in order to save a pet has been signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown.

The law, called the Right To Rescue Act, allows citizens to break car windows to save an animal in distress if there is no other way to gain access to the vehicle and if law enforcement does not arrive fast enough. The rescuer also must stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives.

BIG NEWS!!! The Governor signed AB 797 the #RightToRescueAct! We’re very excited about the lives this new law will save….

Posted by Assemblyman Marc Steinorth on Saturday, September 24, 2016

The bill was introduced February 26, 2015, by Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and others after lawmakers learned of several incidents involving the death of pets left in cars on hot days.

“We’re very excited about the lives this new law will save,” Steinorth wrote on his Facebook page after Gov. Brown signed the bill into law on September 24. “Thank you to everyone who helped us raise awareness of this serious issue and showed their support. You will forever be family in my book.”

Hundreds of pets die every year in hot cars due to heat exhaustion, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The association says that temperatures inside cars can rise 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes and 30 degrees Fahrenheit in 20 minutes.

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