Rep. Olsen Passes Good Samaritan Legislation for Saving Dogs and Cats Locked in Cars during Extreme Weather

David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) has passed legislation in the Illinois House that would provide immunity to Good Samaritans who enter a vehicle in an effort to rescue a dog or cat that is in imminent danger of death or injury due to extreme weather.

HB 4191 seeks to amend the Humane Care of Animals Act by providing legal immunity to Good Samaritans only after several preemptive measures are taken to save the animal without damaging a vehicle. Before making forcible entry to rescue a pet, Good Samaritans must:
  • Determine the vehicle is locked and no other reasonable method for the dog or cat to exit exists 
  • Has a good faith belief that forcible entry is necessary because the animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm or death if not immediately removed from the vehicle 
  • Has made a good faith effort to contact a 9-1-1 system operator, law enforcement or the fire department prior to entering the vehicle 
  • Has made a good faith effort to place a notice on the vehicle’s windshield with the person’s contact information, the reason entry was made, the location of the dog or cat and the fact that authorities have been notified 
  • Remain with the animal in a safe location until law enforcement, emergency responders, or animal control arrive 
  • Use the least amount of force necessary to gain entry to the vehicle 
“It is currently illegal to confine an animal in a motor vehicle in a manner that places the animal in life-threatening situations, yet unfortunately every year we hear about cases when pets die as a result of being locked in vehicles during extreme temperatures,” said Olsen. “This proposal would provide private citizens with immunity from criminal liability, criminal trespass, and from civil liability when they are acting as a Good Samaritan.”

The following states have “Good Samaritan-hot car” laws that provide civil immunity, criminal immunity, or both to private citizens who break into a vehicle to rescue an animal: California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Similar bills are pending in Alabama, Arizona and Oregon.

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