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

Legislation Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to protect individuals who break into a vehicle in order to save an animal that has been left unattended was advanced Monday by an Assembly 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-3636) would provide good Samaritans who rescue overheating animals from parked cars 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. 

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.

The measure was advanced by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.