Del. Bill Aims to Help Save Animals Trapped in Cars - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Bill Aims to Help Save Animals Trapped in Cars

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - A new bill in Delaware could help prevent animal cruelty. It would let first responders break into a parked or stopped vehicle with an animal trapped inside under conditions that are likely to be dangerous even deadly. Right now the responders have no authority to do that under state law.

We see it every summer all over the country - animals hurt or killed from being left in a hot car.

"We get calls probably once a day during summer, peak summer months for animals in distress in parking lots," said Kevin Usilton, executive director of the First State Animal Shelter and SPCA.

Usilton's organization handles dog control for all of Delaware. He says his officers don't want to damage cars.

"But in order to get the dog out, we're probably going to have to break the window, because we can't get in any other way."

The bill lets an officer then take the animal to a shelter if they try and fail to get in contact with its owner. There can also be an associated fine.

Bill sponsor Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, says if a kid were trapped in a car, first responders could break in to get the kid.

"The same is not true of pets. All this does is to add pets to the list of what can be rescued from, from vehicles," she said.

But this requires destroying someone's property, points out brittany Mosley, who WBOC spoke to in Dover. She doesn't think this bill is a good idea.

"No, I don't think. That's violating people's rights. That's not right."

Usilton worries his organization might have to pay to repair a window an officer busts out. He wants an addition to the bill, but it's an addition Sen. Peterson says is redundant.

"That there be a liability waiver if you are a professional, and you are there on scene, and you are saving the dog's life," said Usilton.

"There was no need to, to add that language in, because it already exists in the Delaware code," Sen. Peterson said.

The bill does not allow breaking in for legally transported agricultural animals.

Importantly, the bill only covers first responders. It does not allow the general public to break into vehicles to get a trapped animal.

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