Three’s a trend, and this is one trend we are very pupping excited about: Ohio has just become the third state to allow do-gooders to bust dogs out of hot cars.
Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 215 into law on Tuesday. Under this law folks who break into a car to save an animal in distress are immune from civil liability.
In other words: you can bust a dog out of a hot vehicle, and not have to pay for the damage.
There are some conditions, so don’t get out your hammer just yet. (Also, don’t, because the law doesn’t go in effect until the end of August.)
The rescuer has to have a good faith, reasonable belief that the dog or other animal is actually in distress—and that there’s no way to help them other than breaking into the car and getting them out.
They must also call 911—or make other attempts to reach law enforcement—before breaking any windows, and then leave a note on the windshield.
Additionally, rescuers have to stay with the animal until law enforcement or emergency responders arrive.
Tennessee was the first state with this sort of law. It went into effect last summer. Florida became the second to allow good Samaritans to bust dogs out of hot cars earlier this year.
Virginia has also recently enhanced its protection of pets, by letting first responders, but not civilians, break into vehicles to rescue animals. Michigan may make leaving a dog in a hot car a felony.
And at least two more states—California and Massachusetts—are considering legislation similar to Ohio’s.
Cory Smith, the Humane Society of the United States’ director of public policy for companion animals, told BarkPost she’s heartened by the promising wave of pet-protecting lawmaking.
“This type of measured intervention supplements efforts by first responders, and prevents tragedy for dogs in hot cars as well as the people whose lives are destroyed when they make the ‘it won’t happen to me mistake,'” Smith said.
Ohioan Beth Sheehan, who keeps the Paws and the Law blog, is pleased by S.B. 215—but downright angry about some other, less pet-friendly legislation that Ohio is also considering.
Particularly, a bill in the Ohio House and a parallel bill in the Senate, that would prevent cities and counties from passing or enforcing anti-puppy mill ordinances—like those that prohibit pet stores from selling commercially-bred dogs and cats.
Ohio is home to nine of the 100 worst dog breeders the United States, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
So for both good and bad, said Sheehan, “animal advocates in every state should take notice of what is happening in Ohio.”
Featured image via Flickr/Bohdan79, used under a Creative Commons license
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