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California Miniature
Schnauzer Rescue

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California Legislation

Assembly Bill 797

On September 24, 2016, the Governorsigned AB 797 into law. It execmpts a person from civil liability for property damage or trespass to a motor vehicle if the property damage or trespass occurs while the person is rescuing an animal who the person reasonably believes is in danger. More particularly, it adds section 43.100 to the Civil Code and amends Penal Code § 597.7.

Civil Code § 43.100(a) provides:

There shall not be any civil liability on the part of, and no cause of action shall accrue against, a person for property damage or trespass to a motor vehicle, if the damage was caused while the person was rescuing an animal in accordance with subdivision (b) of Section 597.7 of the Penal Code.

Penal Code § 597.7(b)(1) provides:

This section does not prevent a person from taking reasonable steps that are necessary to remove an animal from a motor vehicle if the person holds a reasonable belief that the animal’s safety is in immediate danger from heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.

This sounds good but may turn out to be problematic.

While everyone who loves animals favors rescuing animals who are in danger, one can easily foresee circumstances where people will break into cars to “rescue” animals who are not in danger and the car owner will be left with the bill for the unnecessary damage.

This new law could be particularly problematic for rescuers who pick up an animal at a shelter and have to stop for a few minutes to use restroom facilities, and come out to find their car window smashed even though the car was not hot inside and the dog or cat was not in any danger. And what happens if someone breaks into a car to “rescue” a dog or cat who is not actually in danger, and then accidentally allows the dog or cat to escape and be hit by another car?

Furthermore, the new law is unclear as to what happens if someone sees a dog crate inside a car on a very hot day and breaks in to “rescue” the dog or cat, only to find that the crate is empty? Will the person who broke in escape liability on the grounds that he or she “reasonably” thought that there was a dog or cat inside who was in danger?

It is hard to predict how this law will work out in practice. Hopefully it will result in saving the lives of animals. On the other hand, it could cause more harm than good if it encourages people to act hastily without first taking the time to ascertain whether or not the animal actually is in danger.

 

Federal Legislation

Importing of Live Dogs
Section 14210 of the Food, Energy and Conservation Act of 2008, 7 USC 2148

In late May 2008, Congress enacted section 14210 of the Food, Energy and Conservation Act of 2008 (sometimes referred to as the 2008 Farm Bill). Basically, this provision prohibits anyone from importing puppies for resale at less than 6 months of age, subject to certain exceptions. It was enacted in response to widespread abuses that were occurring in the importing of very young puppies from foreign puppy mills for sale to U.S. buyers over the Internet, through newspaper ads, and through pet shops. Buyers often did not learn that their puppy was imported until after purchase. Some of the puppies die in transit. Others die shortly after purchase by buyers, often for sums in excess of $3,000. Still others survive, but often have multiple chronic, expensive-to-treat health problems.

© California Miniature Schnauzer Rescue, Inc., 2012–2016
Last Updated: January 7, 2017