The Texas House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee is scheduled to consider Texas House Bill 762 in April 21. This measure offers liability protections for individuals who remove a domestic animal from a motor vehicle if the person has a good faith and reasonable belief that such removal is necessary to avoid imminent harm to the animal. The American Kennel Club (AKC) is concerned that without additional limits, HB 762 could lead to negative unintended consequences. Concerned Texas residents are encouraged to contact the members of the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee to share their concerns.
HB 762 would allow an individual to remove an animal from a motor vehicle if the person determines that, the animal is in imminent danger, the motor vehicle is locked, and that there is no reasonable method for the animal to exit it without assistance. Additionally, the individual must notify law enforcement or call 911 before attempting to enter the vehicle, use no more force than is necessary to enter the vehicle, and remain with the animal in a safe location within reasonable proximity to the vehicle until law enforcement or first responders arrive. Such individuals must also leave a note on the vehicle’s windshield detailing contact information, explanation for entering the vehicle, the location of the animal, and that law enforcement or 911 was contacted.
HB 762 does not provide immunity from civil liability for entering a vehicle if the person, upon notifying law enforcement or calling 911, was advised by law enforcement personnel to not enter the vehicle.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) believes that dog owners bear a special responsibility to their canine companions to provide proper care and humane treatment at all times. No person should leave an animal in a vehicle if its comfort, health, and safety is in question. “Good Samaritan” legislation should provide a balanced approach that protects both the health and safety of dogs and the interests of responsible dog owners.
AKC is urging additional clarifications/amendments to prevent unintended consequences of the proposal as introduced, that could harm animals and punish responsible owners. For example:
- Owners who are found to have taken proper steps to ensure the animal’s safety was protected—such as proper ventilation, air conditioning, blankets, or other protocols appropriate for the breed—should be provided recourse for damages incurred.
- Owners should also be exempt from liability for their dog acting in self-defense and harming a person who breaks into a vehicle the dog was maintained in. These protections are especially important if the animal flees the vehicle and becomes at-large.
For more information, read Good Samaritan Laws: Unintended Consequences Require a Balanced Approach.
CALL TO ACTION:
Concerned Texas residents are encouraged to share their concerns about HB 762 with the members of the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee, who are scheduled to consider the bill on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Please use the talking points, above.
Representative Jeff Leach, Chair (Dist. 67 – Plano)
Dist. Phone: 972-908-3358
Representative Yvonne Davis, Vice Chair (Dist. 111 – Dallas)
Dist. Phone: 214-941-3895
Representative Harold V. Dutton, Jr. (Dist. 142 – Houston)
Dist. Phone: 713-692-9192
Representative Julie Johnson (Dist. 115 – Carrollton)
Cap. Phone: 512-463-0468
Representative Matt Krause (Dist. 93 – Krause)
Dist. Phone: 817-847-4900
Representative Mayes Middleton (Dist. 23 – Wallisville)
Dist. Phone: 409-389-2203
Representative Joe Moody (Dist. 78 – El Paso)
Dist. Phone: 915-751-2700
Representative Mike Schofield (Dist. 132 – Katy)
Dist. Phone: 281-578-8484
Representative Reggie Smith (Dist. 62 – Sherman)
Cap. Phone: 512-463-0297
AKC Government Relations will continue to provide additional information on HB 762 and other Texas legislation as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC Government Relations at email@example.com.