State Assembly Passes Legislation to Permit Firefighters to Protect Companion Animals from Extreme Temperatures in Motor Vehicles

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Thiele Passes 139-0
July 3, 2018

State legislation introduced by Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I, D, WF, WE-Sag Harbor) has passed the State Assembly unanimously, 139-0. The legislation substantially expands who can rescue companion animals from extreme temperatures while confined in a motor vehicle. Thiele was joined by a bi-partisan coalition of 21 other Assembly members who co-sponsored Thiele’s bill.

Current law prohibits the confinement of a companion animal in a motor vehicle in extreme heat or cold temperatures without proper ventilation or other protection from such extreme temperatures where such confinement places the companion animal in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury. It provides a procedure that a police officer, peace officer, or peace officer acting as an agent of a duly incorporated humane society may take to remove the animal or animals from the vehicle in cases where the operator of such vehicle cannot be promptly located. These officers cannot be held criminally or civilly liable for actions taken reasonably and in good faith in carrying out this law.

The Thiele legislation would expand the law by adding thousands of paid and volunteer firefighters located in communities all over the State to the current law by giving them the same authority to rescue companion animals as police and peace officers.

Thiele said, “This bill will result in the saving of pets’ lives in these dangerous situations by substantially expanding who can respond to a pet in distress. Firefighters are equipped and trained to act in these situations. This legislation will allow our firefighters to put that training to good use when a pet is threatened by extreme temperatures in a motor vehicle.”

The bill now goes to the State Senate for final approval.