STATEHOUSE -The Senate Committee on Civil Law today passed State Rep. Tony Cook's (R-Cicero) bill that would provide protections to individuals who rescue animals left unattended in hot cars.
Cook said under his proposal, people who rescue an animal from a hot vehicle would be provided immunity from civil liability for property damage resulting from their forcible entry. The person would be required to first notify law enforcement and could only use a reasonable amount of force to remove the animal. Those individuals would also be responsible for waiting with the pet until an officer arrives on the scene. The Senate committee did add an amendment that holds the person rescuing the animal responsible for the entry damage.
"There are about 13,600 community animal shelters and control agencies nationwide that receive at least one to two calls per day reporting pets left in hot cars," Cook said. "If one considers the number of 911 calls that police departments receive across the country reporting these animals, then likely tens of thousands of cases occur each year. Time is of the essence in these dangerous situations, so it's important that Hoosiers are not punished for doing the right thing when stepping up to rescue these animals from enduring terrible suffering."
According to the director of Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control, there were 269 calls received for dogs being left in vehicles from May 1 through Sept. 30, 2016. In addition, nearly half of the animal-neglect calls received by the department were in response to animals left inside a car. The average interior temperature of these vehicles was between 90 and 130 degrees, and an officer's average response time ranged from five to 20 minutes.
This bill would only apply to domestic, household pets and would not include livestock.
The amended bill will go to the full Senate. If passed, the bill might move to a conference committee because of the differing versions, where compromise would be sought. To learn more about HB 1085, visit iga.in.gov.