New Dog Law in PA

Photo by Jon Lever on Unsplash

Did you know that in October 2018, Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1216, entitled the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act? This act was designed to punish people who leave their pets in unattended hot cars.

The law, created to prevent dogs and cats from being left in parked cars, allows law enforcement to enter a car if an animal is believed to be in danger or neglect.

Here’s what you should know about the new law according to Kara Seymour, Patch National Staff:

  • A police officer, humane officer, animal control officer, or other public safety professional can remove a dog or cat from an unattended motor vehicle if they believe the dog or cat is in imminent danger or harm after a reasonable search for the operator of the vehicle.
  • The officer who removes a dog or cat from the hot vehicle must leave a conspicuous note for the owner that includes the officer’s information and details on where to pick up the pet.
  • The police officer, humane officer, or public safety professional who removes a dog or cat from an unattended vehicle is protected from liability for any damages.
  • If you see a pet in a hot car who you think is in danger, don’t try to save it yourself because the law doesn’t protect civilians.

If you encounter a situation in which you feel an animal inside a car is in danger, the SPCA recommends first taking down the car’s make, model and license plate number. Then, go into nearby businesses to ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner, the SPCA advises.

“Many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in hot cars and will quickly return to their vehicle once they are alerted to the situation,” the SPCA explains.

For hot weather tips, click here.


  1. Angela Tocci says

    Sometimes a civilian find the animal in distress and cannot wait for the authorities to help the animal. I believe that the law should be changed to help the animal in case the officer is unable to save the animal because they are on an emergency call. I also believe that if a pet owner leaves their animal unattended in a vehicle in the hot/cold weather, the owner should be given a citation and a stiff fine. Too many people don’t really care about what happens to their pets and ignorance is not an excuse.

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