TRENTON, NJ – Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney has introduced legislation protecting first responders from liability when rescuing animals locked in vehicles in extreme weather conditions.

“It’s illegal to lock a pet in a car in extreme heat or cold, but if first responders break a window to free the animal, they can be sued,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “The purpose of the law is to protect the animals, but if the police hesitate because they may be held liable, what’s the point? Exempting emergency personnel is common sense. It allows them to freely do their job which is to save that dog or kitten from severe illness or death.”   

Rooney’s bill (A4144) exempts law enforcement and other emergency personnel from liability when breaking into a vehicle to rescue an animal left in conditions that pose an immediate threat its health.

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Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles. A vehicle can quickly reach a temperature putting your pet at risk of serious illness and death on a day that doesn't seem hot. Temperatures can reach 110 degrees inside a car on a 70 degree day.

Leaving animals in cars during cold weather is dangerous as well. Vehicles rapidly cool down in cold weather and can become like refrigerators.