No more hot-car deaths involving pets.
That's the message three California lawmakers are bringing to the state Assembly today with the introduction of Bill 797, or "The Right to Rescue Act."
The proposed bill would allow passersby to smash car windows to rescue pets trapped in hot cars.
To drive home the point, Assemblymembers Ling Ling Chang, Kristin Olsen and Marc Steinorth, who drafted the bill, filmed themselves locked inside a car for 21 minutes while the temperature outside was at a sweltering 89 degrees.
"Last week, I sat in a hot car with Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen and Assemblyman Marc Steinorth for over 20 minutes," Chang posted on Facebook Monday. "The inside temperature of the car rose to +108 degrees. I'm proud to co-sponsor legislation to protect pets left in hot cars."
This is no laughing matter in a state that already has a law allowing bystanders to smash car windows to save children. Experts warn that the heat inside a car can rise significantly higher than the temperature outside.
A 2005 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that "vehicles heat up rapidly, with the majority of the temperature rise occurring within the first 15 to 30 minutes. Leaving the windows opened slightly does not significantly slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature attained, according to the study.
"Previous studies found that on days when ambient temperatures exceeded 86°F, the internal temperatures of the vehicle quickly reached 134 to 154°F," according to the study.
Assembly Bill 797 has received both praise and skepticism from California residents.
"I'd rather have the ability to do it rather than not do it. It's more important to help the dog than it is to worry about people's feelings," Randall Whittinghill told ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV
But April Rocha told KABC, "I think some people might take it a little far, like they see a dog in there and go a little nuts. I think it depends on the condition, but I think people may take advantage and go extreme."
Several states, including Florida and Tennessee, already have laws in place that render legal protections to passersby who break car windows to free animals inside hot cars.
The California bill is expected to be introduced during a Humane Society rally in Sacramento, the capital.