As temperatures increase this summer, it is important to know the state laws in effect that will allow people the ability to rescue a child or animal from a hot car.
A Facebook post made by Riverside County Animal Services, describes a recent event where an animal was left in a hot car. As described in the Facebook post, an Animal Services officer responded to a call on June 1 regarding a small dog left inside a hot car at The Shops at Palm Desert. Bystanders were concerned about the dog since the temperature in Palm Desert on June 1 was over 100 degrees. A bystander smashed one of the windows of the vehicle after the Pomeranian mix was left unattended for approximately 45 min. A Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy arrested the dog’s owner on suspicion of Penal Code 597.7of Assembly Bill No. 797. “A person shall not leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.” When the dog was removed from the vehicle, the dog’s temperature read 104.9 degrees.
Assembly Bill No. 797, approved in 2016, adds to Section 43.100 to the Civil Code, and amended Section 597.7 of the Penal Code, relating to trespass. It adds, the section 43.100 stating, “There shall not be any civil liability on the part of, and no cause of action shall accrue against, a person for property damage or trespass to a motor vehicle, if the damage was caused while the person was rescuing an animal in accordance with subdivision (b) of Section 597.7 of the Penal Code.
Assembly Bill 2717, which went into effect Jan. 1 2021, would exempt people from civil and criminal liability for property damage or trespassing of a vehicle. This only applies while a person is rescuing a child ,who is 6-years-old or younger, at risk of “suffering, disability, or death” due to being in a hot or cold car without proper ventilation. This law expands Assembly Bill No. 797 that previously only applied when a person rescued an animal from a car from being charged with property damage or trespassing.
Section 1799.101 of AB 2717 was added to the Health and Safety Code to state, “A person may take any reasonable steps that are necessary to remove a child from a motor vehicle if the person holds a reasonable belief that the child’s safety is in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the child.”
Riverside County Animal Services Director Erin Gettis is quoted in the social media post warning residents that “It’s very dangerous to leave pets in cars during high-temperature days.” They ask all Riverside County residents to “Please leave your pets at home in the air conditioning or, when traveling with your pet, never leave them in a car.”
Written by: Andy Valencia, Reference Librarian
Assembly Bill No. 797 https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB797
Assembly Bill No. 2717 https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB2717
Riverside County Animal Services Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Riverside-County-Animal-Services-162246003836827