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From hot cars to boarding, states seek pet protections

To keep you informed of pet-related laws being considered or enacted across the US, we have provided a few summaries. This edition discusses new pet legislation occurring in Michigan, Ohio, California, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Pet law briefs for September:

Michigan: MI Is Close to Passing Animal Rescue Bill 

On September 13, 2016, the Michigan House considered Senate Bill 566, which would allow private citizens to remove an animal or minor from a vehicle if they believe that the animal’s health or safety is in danger. This is great since we know how hot cars can get over the summer! The bill, known as the "Emergency Minor and Animal Rescue Act" would remove any civil liability for property damage caused by any person who forcibly enters into a motor vehicle to remove a minor or animal from the vehicle under certain circumstances. The Michigan Senate Judiciary unanimously approved the bill on February 23, 2016, which can be reviewed here: MI Senate Bill 566

Ohio: OH Raises Animal Abuse To Felony Status

Starting September 13, 2016, it is a fifth-degree felony to deprive a companion animal of food, shelter or water, or to cause it serious physical harm. Penalties include imprisonment for 6-12 months and fines up to $2,500.00. The new statute also includes mandatory prison time and fines for being convicted of assaulting a police dog or horse that later dies as a result of its injuries. 

California: CA Get New Protections for Pets In Boarding Facilities

On September 14, 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB-945 into law, which enables local government to create ordinances establishing standards for the health, sanitation and safety of boarded animals. The bill provides for penalties when boarding facilities fail to establish and maintain pest control, lighting, safety and isolation of sick pets, among other issues concerning boarded pets’ health and safety. We support anything that keeps our pet safe, especially when we were away from them!

South Carolina: SC Moves to Establish Legal Standards for Commercial Dog Breeders

South Carolina passed a bill that will require commercial dog breeders to be licensed, establish standards for commercial dog breeders, and provides jail time and fines from $200-1,000 for violations of these requirements. The bill also establishes regulatory authority for investigations by public health, public safety and animal control officers to investigate possible violations of these standards. The bill is waiting for Governor Nikki Haley's signature, and may be viewed in its entirety here: SC Commercial Breeder Law

Pennsylvania: PA Seeks Pet Rescue Protection for 1st Responders

The PA Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a resolution, if approved by the House, to grant immunity for first responders who enter vehicles to rescue cats and dogs left inside, even when that involves breaking into the vehicle. Some animal welfare advocates would prefer language which includes protection for “Good Samaritans” who take similar action, but this has not yet been added to the bill. Passage of the bill would make leaving an animal alone in a hot vehicle punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. Three other states have enacted tougher laws on this issue: Florida, Tennessee and Wisconsin extend this protection to “Good Samaritans” who take action to rescue pets trapped in hot vehicles.


David Chambers is a retired paralegal living in Chicago with his partner, Stephanie, and two fluffy cats, Jasper and Joy

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