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2018 U.S. Animal Protection Laws State Rankings

Acts against leaving dogs locked in hot cars

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Acts against leaving dogs locked in hot cars

These laws address the issue of animals left unattended in motor vehicles. People often leave their companion animals locked in their car while they run an errand, not realizing that temperatures inside vehicles can rise quickly. Even on a cloudy day with the windows cracked, conditions inside a car may turn lethal for any animals trapped inside within a matter of minutes.

Dog in car

As of 2018, 30 states and the District of Columbia have some kind of “hot car” law. In West Virginia and New Jersey, it is a crime to leave an animal unattended in a vehicle under inhumane conditions, but no one is statutorily authorized to enter the vehicle to rescue a trapped animal. Twenty states provide immunity for law enforcement, first responders, or animal control officers who enter a vehicle to rescue an animal. Twelve states have “Good Samaritan” laws which grant civil immunity for civilians recusing an animal from an unattended vehicle under certain circumstances—like contacting law enforcement before entering the car.

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