More than a dozen bills were introduced on the state level this year prohibiting dogs being kept in cars under certain weather conditions. Some, such as Delaware Senate Bill 22, were supported by AKC Government Relations. Delaware’s new law allows law enforcement, animal control officers, and firefighters to enter a vehicle if it is believed that it is a temperature such as to cause severe injury or death to the animal. It also allows a warning for a first offense.
AKC Government Relations expressed concern with others, such as Wisconsin AB 308, that would remove any liability for private citizens to enter a vehicle and remove a dog if they believed to be in danger. Similar measures have been pre-filed in several states for 2016, including multiple bills in Maryland and Virginia. Unlike Wisconsin AB 308, which required that the person call 911 prior to breaking into a vehicle, these measures essentially provide blanket permission and no additional requirements for anyone to break into a vehicle if they allege an animal is in danger.
AKC strongly supports the ability to rescue a dog truly in distress. However, sufficient protections should be provided to ensure that such laws do not undermine penalties and liability for unwarranted damage to personal property, theft of pets, or other unintended consequences.