TRENTON – Today the full Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senators Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Colin Bell providing immunity from criminal and civil liability for someone who breaks or enters a vehicle to rescue an animal, if other means were taken first to obtain assistance for the animal.
“When the temperature rises rapidly, all it takes is 15 minutes for a dog to succumb to the heat and die,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden-Gloucester). “This legislation provides the legal protection to enter a vehicle or smash a window if the purpose is to save an animal that is in immediate danger of dying.”
“Leaving a dog or other animal alone in a vehicle while shopping, dining out, going to the movies or doing other things could put them at risk of serious harm and even death,” said Senator Bell (D-Atlantic).”This legislation will provide immunity to good Samaritans who take action to save an animal’s life.”
The bill, S-2899, provides civil and criminal immunity to persons, who in good faith, enter a motor vehicle to rescue an animal left unattended therein under inhumane conditions and for someone who renders emergency care to the animal under certain conditions if the person reasonably believes that the health or welfare of the animal may be at risk under such circumstances, provided that prior to entering the motor vehicle the person contacted appropriate rescue personnel to report the circumstances and made a reasonable attempt to locate the owner or operator of the motor vehicle or other person responsible for the animal unless exigent circumstances warrant foregoing such actions.
Once the person has rescued the animal, they would be required to contact a law enforcement officer, or a certified animal control officer who would seek proper care of the animal and commence an animal cruelty investigation.
Currently, states such as California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin have laws providing legal immunity to good Samaritans who break into cars to save pets in immediate danger of losing their lives due to the inhumane condition they encounter.
The bill was approved by the full Senate with a vote of 37-0. It now heads to the Assembly for further consideration.