A new state law allows Californians to break into vehicles to rescue animals from overheating if they appear to be in danger, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the so-called Right to Rescue Act into law Saturday after a series of pet deaths across California.
Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and others introduced the bill to help prevent more pet deaths.
We're very excited about the lives this new law will save.
According to the new law, rescuers must have no other way to gain access to the animal and must believe the pet is in danger.
The law also states that rescuers must contact law enforcement before entering the vehicle, must use no more force than necessary and must remain at the scene until officers arrive.
The Humane Society, which supported this bill, noted that it only takes about 10 minutes for a vehicles to become dangerously hot for a pet.
California's new bill essentially protects the rescuer from civil and criminal liability if they cause damage to a vehicle while rescuing an animal.
"In an emergency, good Samaritans should be confident that they won't be sued for taking heroic actions to rescue a pet," Steinorth said in a statement last month.
Dan Felizzatto, Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, said he believes this new law will save lives.
"Every year, hundreds of animals suffer, and many die, in Los Angeles County from being left in hot vehicles. By the time a citizen spots an animal trapped in a hot vehicle the situation is often dire, and requires immediate action," he said in a statement.
Felizzatto said officers don't always respond to the scene in time so this provides a "legal framework for a good Samaritan" to help remove an animal from a hot vehicle.
Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Ohio and Vermont all have similar laws.