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Vainieri Huttle, Murphy Bill to Protect Good Samaritans Who Break Into Vehicles to Save Unattended Pets Clears Assembly Committee

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Carol Murphy to protect individuals who break into a vehicle in order to save an animal that has been left unattended and is deemed to be in imminent danger was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources committee.

“If an animal is in danger and someone passing by is in a position to save its life, that person shouldn’t have to think twice because they’re worried about a lawsuit,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Once they’ve exhausted all other options, people acting in good faith should be free to take whatever action is necessary to save an animal.”

The bill (A-2318) would provide good Samaritans who rescue overheating animals from parked cars and are considered to be in imminent danger with immunity from civil and criminal liability. Under the legislation, a person who reasonably believes that an animal is in danger due to inhumane conditions must report the circumstances to rescue personnel and make a reasonable effort to locate the animal’s owner prior to breaking into the vehicle.

“Domesticated animals are some of the most helpless creatures on this Earth,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “If someone with a kind soul sees an animal in a near-death situation caused by negligence, they should not have to fear legal action if they act to save that animal’s life.”

After rescuing the animal, the person must immediately contact a law enforcement officer, certified animal control officer or humane law enforcement officer or agent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or of a county society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, if one has not already been notified.