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Law allows firefighters, emergency responders to rescue animals from hot cars

Posted at 9:53 AM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 18:22:53-04

Firefighters and emergency medical responders in New York State have gotten the green light to remove animals from unattended cars if the animals are in danger. Governor Cuomo signed legislation that expanded the number of responders legally allowed to remove the animals.

The legislation was designed to get animals in danger out quickly, especially in areas where police or animal control availability is limited. The law applies when animals are left in the car in extremely warm or extremely cold temperatures.

"Leaving a pet in a stifling hot or freezing cold car is inhumane and potentially dangerous, and emergency responders should have the ability to remove them if necessary," Governor Cuomo said.

Commissioner of Erie County Emergency Services Dan Neaverth says it's a "phenomenal" new law to save a pet's life, but the 'devil is in the detail'.

"When we talk about removing an animal from a vehicle - we are not talking about opening the door and just taking them out – you're probably going to have to pop a window – as we would say on the fire side of things -to get that pet out," Nearverth explained.

Neaverth says fire fighters and first responders will now be trained on this new law and how it addresses the issue of liability when the vehicle is damaged in the rescue.

"That the liability actually falls on the person who was leaving their pet in the vehicle and responsibility," noted Nearverth.

But the law doesn't end there. It requires first responders and fire fighters to make sure the pet is taken care of afterwards. They must also create a record of notifying the vehicle owner.

At the SPCA of Erie County they receive daily calls throughout the summer months to rescue pets from cars.

"Unfortunately many of them are legitimate and unfortunately we can not get to those situations in the time desired – because we are covering an entire county with only a couple of officers," Lattuca replied.

The SPCA says it's not illegal to leave an animal in the car, but you must be mindful of how fast the interior temperature will climb to 100-degrees.

"It's important to remind the community to intervene – if you see an animal – that in anyway is exhibiting stress or what you perceive as distress – intervene - try to find the owner of that vehicle and call an agency," remarked Lattuca.

The law goes into effect immediately. Click here to read the law.