Police remind pet owners about hot car safety with new law in place

SOLEBURY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WPVI) -- A new Pennsylvania law protects police officers and first responders if they break into a hot car to save an animal.

While Governor Tom Wolf signed the law last fall, this is the first summer with the new policies in effect.

Detective Corporal Jonathan Koretzky with the Solebury Township Police Department says officers still need to attempt to locate the owner vehicle and cause as little damage as possible.

"We are protected to a degree," said Koretsky. "We have to be able to show that the dog or animal is in danger, and use proper means to gain access to that vehicle."

With hot weather in the forecast, Bucks County law enforcement and animal advocates are reminding drivers to bring their pets with them and to call 911 if they see an animal in distress.

Koretsky says when the weather changes, the department usually sees a spike in calls for animals in cars, as bystanders become concerned.

"Even if it's in the shade a little bit, or if the windows are cracked it doesn't really matter. It becomes an oven in the car," said Bucks County SPCA Executive Director Linda Reider.

Reider also encourages people to call 911 in a hot car emergency, not the SPCA or humane officers.

Police say while the new law protects officers and first responders from damage liability, it doesn't necessarily protect Good Samaritans. Bystanders are encouraged to call 911 rather than trying to break into the car themselves.
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