Sacramento, CA – Today Governor Jerry Brown signed the “Right to Rescue Act,” allowing citizens to rescue animals left trapped and suffering in hot cars. The bill was introduced by a bipartisan coalition of authors led by Assembly Members Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Bill Quirk (D – Hayward) and Senator Steve Glazer (D – Orinda).
“The Right to Rescue Act will save lives,” stated Steinorth. “No longer will Californians gather around a car in a parking lot feeling helpless while watching a pet suffer, or even die. Hot cars can be a real danger to our pets, and I am thrilled that California is giving Good Samaritans this layer of legal protection if they take heroic action to save a life.”
The bill requires a rescuer to first call law enforcement to report the situation. If the animal is in imminent danger, the car is locked, and law enforcement is not arriving quickly enough to save the animal’s life, AB 797 provides immunity from civil and criminal liability to a person causing vehicle damage for the purpose of rescuing the animal. The rescuer must remain at the scene for law enforcement to arrive and respond to the situation.
“I am proud to be working on this bipartisan effort to end inhumane animal deaths,” stated Assemblymember Santiago. “As Assemblymember Steinorth and I both came to understand earlier this year, it is unbearable to sit in a hot car, especially for our pets. AB 797 allows Good Samaritans to safely and carefully rescue animals trapped in hot cars without fear of prosecution.”
Law enforcement has expressed strong support of the measure. San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon stated, “Hot car deaths are tragic and devastating…AB 797 will make it clear that a person who breaks into a car in order to rescue a person or pet would be protected by California’s broader good Samaritan Law.”
Sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and the Los Angeles County District Attorney, AB 797 has attracted the support of numerous law enforcement authorities and animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA and Civil Justice Association of California. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support throughout the legislative process, and goes into effect on January 1, 2017.
Assemblyman Steinorth represents the 40th Assembly District which includes Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Highland, Loma Linda, and Redlands.