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Joining in the unanimous approval of the House, the Florida Senate unanimously approved the “Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety Act,” or “P.A.W.S. Act.” The P.A.W.S. Act makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to endanger an animal’s well-being by confining the animal to an unattended motor vehicle. Additionally, the P.A.W.S. Act authorizes citizens to rescue the animal provided the citizen has been instructed to do so by a 911 operator, law enforcement agency, or fire department.
Here in the Sunshine State, animals are especially vulnerable to confinement. Even on a seventy-degree day, a parked car will exceed one hundred degrees within twenty minutes. Medium-sized dogs will suffer heat stroke if their core temperature reaches 103° Fahrenheit. Once signed by the Governor, the P.A.W.S. Act will put Florida in the vanguard of “hot car laws.” Currently, only sixteen states criminalize the confinement of an animal in life-threatening conditions. Only Tennessee immunizes private citizens from civil liability arising from rescue efforts.
For more information, see:
Selina Iglesias, Greene Publishing, Inc., “Florida Senate passes hot car law,” February 23, 2016, http://www.greenepublishing.com/florida-senate-passes-hot-car-law/
Rebecca F. Wisch, Animal Legal & Historical Center, “Table of State Laws that Protect Animals Left in Parked Vehicles,” 2015, https://www.animallaw.info/topic/table-state-laws-protect-animals-left-parked-vehicles
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