Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed into law a measure allowing Californians to break into vehicles to rescue animals if they appear to be in danger from excessive heat.
The bill by Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and others was introduced after a series of incidents in which dogs died after being left in closed cars on hot days.
"We're very excited about the lives this new law will save," Steinorth said in a statement Saturday on Facebook. "Thank you to everyone who helped us raise awareness of this serious issue and showed their support."
Under AB 797, a citizen must first call law enforcement to report a situation in which he or she believes an animal to be in peril.
But 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, the bill provides immunity from civil and criminal liability to a person causing vehicle damage for the purpose of rescuing the animal. The measure was supported by the Humane Society of the United States and the Los Angeles district attorney's office.