Pennsylvania authorities can break into cars to rescue cats, dogs

Thanks to a new law, authorities in Pennsylvania can break into cars to rescue animals.

The law, known as Act 104 of 2018, went into effect Monday, news station WPXI reported. It was signed by Gov. Tim Wolf in October.

Authorities --  that includes law enforcement officers, animal control officers, humane society police officers, emergency responders and humane society officers, among others  -- “are not liable for damage to a motor vehicle or the contents thereof caused by entry into the motor vehicle for the purpose of removing a dog or cat,” under certain conditions, the law states.

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Authorities can break into motor vehicles to rescue a dog or cat if they have “reasonable belief” the animal is in “imminent danger or suffering harm if not immediately removed from the motor vehicle,” the law says.

That said, authorities are required to make a “reasonable effort” to locate the driver before breaking in. Authorities are also warned against using “more force than necessary under the circumstances to enter the motor vehicle.”

Authorities must also take “reasonable steps to ensure or restore the well-being of the dog or cat” and leave a note either on or inside the car "stating the reason entry was made, the name of the person and of the person's employer, a telephone number and, if possible, the location where the dog or cat may be retrieved,” the law says.

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The law does not apply to private citizens who break into cars in the name of animal rescue.

A dog left in a hot car can die in six minutes, according to the  Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association.

To learn more about how leaving pets in a hot car could adversely affect them, click here.