BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó






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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        AB 797|
          |Office of Senate Floor Analyses   |                              |
          |(916) 651-1520    Fax: (916)      |                              |
          |327-4478                          |                              |
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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  AB 797
          Author:   Steinorth (R) and Santiago (D), et al.
          Amended:  8/1/16 in Senate
          Vote:     21 

           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  7-0, 6/14/16
           AYES:  Jackson, Moorlach, Anderson, Hertzberg, Leno, Monning,  
            Wieckowski

           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE:  7-0, 6/28/16
           AYES:  Hancock, Anderson, Glazer, Leno, Liu, Monning, Stone

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR:  77-0, 4/30/15 (Consent) - See last page for  
            vote

           SUBJECT:   Motor vehicles:  rescue or provision of care for  
                     animal:  civil and criminal liability


          SOURCE:    Humane Society of the United States
                     Los Angeles County District Attorney


          DIGEST:  This bill provides a person civil immunity from any  
          property damage or trespass to a motor vehicle, if the damage  
          was caused while the person was rescuing an animal in accordance  
          with specified law.  This bill also provides that such immunity  
          does not affect a person's civil liability or immunity from  
          civil liability for rendering aid to an animal. Additionally,  
          this bill: (1) applies existing law responsibilities of peace  
          officers, humane officers, or animal control officers who remove  
          an animal from a vehicle to firefighters or other emergency  
          responders as well; (2) specifies that existing law does not  








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          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 appears to be in  
          immediate danger, as specified; and (3) provides that such a  
          person is not criminally liable for actions taken reasonably and  
          in good faith, as specified.

          Senate Floor Amendments of 8/1/16 add a coauthor and make a  
          technical change.


          ANALYSIS:  


          Existing law: 


          1)Provides, generally, that every person has, subject to the  
            qualifications and restrictions provided by law, the right of  
            protection from bodily restraint or harm, personal insult,  
            defamation, and injury to his personal relations.  


          2)Provides that every person is bound, without contract, to  
            abstain from injuring the person or property of another, or  
            infringing upon any of his or her rights.  Existing case law  
            provides that an act, which in many cases is itself lawful,  
            becomes unlawful when by [the act] damages have accrued to the  
            property of another. (Colton v. Onderdonk (1886) 69 Cal. 155,  
            159.)   Existing case law provides that, in general, if a  
            voluntary act, lawful in itself, may naturally result in the  
            injury of another, or in the violation of his legal rights,  
            the actor must at his peril see to it that such injury or  
            violation does not follow, or he must expect to respond in  
            damages therefor, regardless of the motive or degree of care  
            with which the act is performed.  (McKenna v. Pacific E. R.  
            Co. (1930) 104 Cal.App. 538, 542 (internal citation omitted).)


          3)Provides that everyone is responsible, not only for the result  
            of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury to another  
            caused by his or her lack of ordinary care or skill in the  
            management of his or her property or person, except so far as  
            the latter has, willfully or from lack of ordinary care,  







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            brought the injury upon himself or herself.  


          4)Provides that the ownership of a thing is the right of one or  
            more persons to possess and use it to the exclusion of others.  
            In the Civil Code, the thing of which there may be ownership  
            is called property.  Provides, separately, that there may be  
            ownership of all inanimate things which are capable of  
            appropriation or of manual delivery; of all domestic animals;  
            of all obligations; of such products of labor or skill as the  
            composition of an author, the good will of a business,  
            trademarks and signs, and of rights created or granted by  
            statute.  Provides that property is either: (a) real or  
            immovable; or (b) personal or movable.  Provides that every  
            kind of property that is not real is personal. 


          5)Provides, under Section 597.7 of the Penal Code, that no  
            person shall leave or confine an animal in any unattended  
            motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the health or  
            well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate  
            ventilation, or lack of food or water, or other circumstances  
            that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering,  
            disability, or death to the animal.  A person who violates  
            this law would be subject to specified fines and penalties.  


          6)Provides, under Section 597.7 of the Penal Code, that nothing  
            in this law prevents a peace officer, humane officer, or an  
            animal control officer from removing an animal from a motor  
            vehicle if the animal's safety appears to be 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.  Authorizes the officer to take all steps that are  
            reasonably necessary for the removal of an animal from a motor  
            vehicle, including, but not limited to, breaking into the  
            motor vehicle, after a reasonable effort to locate the owner  
            or other person responsible.  Requires, further, the officer  
            to take the animal to an animal shelter or other place of  
            safekeeping or, if the officer deems necessary, to a  
            veterinary hospital for treatment, and to leave a written  
            notice on the car, as specified, including the address of the  
            location where the animal can be claimed. 







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          7)Provides that Section 597.7 does not affect in any way  
            existing liabilities or immunities in current law, or create  
            any new immunities or liabilities.  


          This bill: 


          1)Applies the provisions of Section 597.7, above, for peace,  
            humane, and animal control officers to firefighters and other  
            emergency responders, as well.


          2)Provides that Section 597.7 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.  Provides,  
            further, that a person who removes an animal in accordance  
            with that provision is not criminally liable for actions taken  
            reasonably and in good faith, if the person meets certain  
            other requirements. For example, the person must:

                 Determine the vehicle is locked or there is otherwise no  
               reasonable manner for the animal to be removed from the  
               vehicle;

                 Contact a local law enforcement agency, the fire  
               department, animal control, or the "911" emergency service  
               prior to forcibly entering the vehicle;

                 Use no more force to enter the vehicle and remove the  
               animal from the vehicle than was necessary under the  
               circumstances; and


                 Immediately turn the animal over to a representative  
               from law enforcement, animal control, or another emergency  
               responder who responds to the scene.








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          1)Adds a new civil statute to provide that 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 the standards in the  
            Penal Code provisions, above.  Provides that this immunity  
            does not affect a person's civil liability or immunity from  
            civil liability for rendering aid to an animal.


          2)Makes other conforming and technical changes.  


          Background


          In 2006, recognizing that animals left unattended inside closed  
          vehicles in the heat, even for short periods of time, can suffer  
          severe injury and death and that even moderately warm  
          temperatures outside can quickly lead to deadly temperatures  
          inside a closed car, California enacted SB 1806 (Figueroa,  
          Chapter 431, Statutes of 2006) to prohibit a person from leaving  
          or confining an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under  
          conditions that endanger the health or well-being of an animal  
          due to 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.  SB  
          1806, establishing Section 597.7 of the Penal Code, among other  
          things, established various criminal fines and penalties for  
          anyone who violated that law and expressly stated that the  
          resulting statute does not prevent a peace officer, humane  
          officers, or animal control officers from removing an animal  
          from a motor vehicle if the animal's safety appears to be in  
          immediate danger, as specified.  In doing so, however, the bill  
          further required that the peace officer, humane officer, or  
          animal control officer take the animal to an animal shelter or  
          other place of safekeeping, or, if the officer deems necessary,  
          to a veterinary hospital for treatment.  Pursuant to Section  
          597.7, an officer is authorized to take all steps that are  
          reasonably necessary for the removal of an animal from a motor  
          vehicle, including, but not limited to, breaking into the motor  
          vehicle, after a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other  
          person responsible.  While the bill originally provided for both  







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          civil and criminal immunity, ultimately, it was amended to  
          remove that language.  The resulting statute, in fact, expressly  
          states that it does not affect in any way existing liabilities  
          or immunities in current law, or create any new immunities or  
          liabilities.  (See Pen. Code Sec. 597.7.)  


          According to the proponents of this bill, co-sponsored by the  
          Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office (LADA) and the  
          Humane Society of the United States, animals continue to be left  
          in unattended vehicles, despite educational efforts and the fact  
          that owners risk fines and imprisonment.  At the same time,  
          bystanders hesitate to take life-saving actions to rescue an  
          animal whose safety is in immediate danger out of fear of both  
          civil and criminal liability. The LADA cites an example with  
          current law that their office was made aware of: "In this tragic  
          case a bystander noticed a dog that had collapsed on the floor  
          of a locked vehicle on a warm summer day.  The bystander called  
          911 and waited for emergency service personnel to arrive.  As  
          the bystander waited other people gathered around the vehicle  
          waiting for emergency services to arrive.  As the[y] waited,  
          they watched as the animal continued to suffer and eventually  
          die.  The bystanders told law enforcement that they considered  
          making entry to the vehicle but decided against taking action  
          because they were afraid of being arrested or sued." 


          Accordingly, this bill now seeks to grant immunity from both  
          civil and criminal liability to any person who takes 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, and the person  
          meets certain statutory requirements.  Those requirements  
          include, among other things, that the person: (1) contacts a  
          local law enforcement agency, the fire department, animal  
          control, or the "911" emergency service prior to forcibly  
          entering the vehicle; (2) uses no more force to enter the  
          vehicle and remove the animal from the vehicle than was  
          necessary under the circumstances; and (3) immediately turns the  
          animal over to a representative from law enforcement, animal  
          control, or another emergency responder who responds to the  







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          scene.


          Comments


          As stated by the author: 


            California's existing "Good Samaritan" statute does not  
            protect a person from liability from acting to rescue an  
            animal facing imminent danger from being trapped in a hot car.  
            As a result, well-intentioned people who notice an animal  
            illegally left in an unattended vehicle are unable to act to  
            save the pet from potential heat exhaustion or death in the  
            event that law enforcement or emergency responders are unable  
            to arrive in time to act.


            AB 797 establishes immunity from civil liability for any  
            person who acts to rescue an animal facing imminent danger  
            while left unattended in a vehicle. In order to receive such  
            legal immunity, the person must follow specific steps  
            identified in this legislation prior to entering the vehicle.  
            These steps include: 

               (1)Determining the vehicle is locked or there is otherwise  
                 no reasonable manner for the animal to be removed from  
                 the vehicle;

               (2)Have a good faith belief that forcible entry into the  
                 vehicle is necessary because the animal is in imminent  
                 danger of suffering harm if not immediately removed from  
                 the vehicle, and based upon the circumstances known to  
                 the person at the time, the belief is reasonable;

               (3)Contact local law enforcement prior to forcibly entering  
                 the vehicle.


            To enter the vehicle, the person is required to use no more  
            force than necessary to enter the vehicle and remove the  
            animal from the vehicle. Following entry into the vehicle to  
            rescue the animal, the person is required to remain with the  







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            animal at a safe location, out of the elements but reasonably  
            close to the vehicle, until an emergency responder arrives.


            The person rescuing the animal will only receive criminal and  
            civil immunity if each and every one of the above steps are  
            followed. [Emphasis in original.] 


          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:NoLocal:    No


          SUPPORT:   (Verified8/1/16)


          Humane Society of the United States (co-source)
          Los Angeles County District Attorney (co-source)
          ASPCA
          Best Friends Animal Society
          Civil Justice Association of California
          Councilmember David J. Toro, City of Colton
          Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association
          Marin Humane Society
          San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon
          San Diego County District Attorney's Office
          San Diego Humane Society
          San Francisco SPCA
          Social Compassion in Legislation
          One individual


          OPPOSITION:   (Verified8/1/16)


          American Kennel Club
          California Federation of Dog Clubs
          The Animal Council 


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:     The Los Angeles County District  
          Attorney's Office, co-sponsor of this bill, writes that:









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            Every year, hundreds of animals suffer, and many die, in Los  
            Angeles County from being left in hot vehicles.  Even when  
            temperatures are in the low 70s and a car's windows are left  
            slightly open, a vehicle can heat up more than 40 degrees  
            within an hour. If an animal's safety appears to be in  
            immediate danger, California Penal Code [S]ection 597.7 allows  
            peace officers, human officers, and animal control officers to  
            take any reasonable steps to remove the animal from a vehicle,  
            including, but not limited to, breaking into the vehicle.  The  
            section does not, however, allow civilians to physically  
            remove an animal from a vehicle, regardless of how urgent or  
            life-threatening the situation is.  Currently, civilians in  
            California who observe an animal in immediate danger are not  
            permitted to do anything, other than attempt to find the  
            animal's owner (which can prove to be difficult, if not  
            impossible, and time-consuming) and/or notify the authorities.  
             By the time a citizen spots an animal trapped in a hot  
            vehicle, the situation is often dire, and requires immediate  
            action.  Because a call of this nature is not a priority for  
            law enforcement, peace officers may not respond in time.  Due  
            to the very limited resources of animal control agencies  
            across the state, as much as animal control officers would  
            like to respond quickly to a call of an animal in a hot  
            vehicle, it is not always feasible."  [ . . . ]


          The co-sponsor, Humane Society of the United States, writes that  
          "[p]lenty of Californians have come across animals in need of  
          rescue from parked cars on hot days, but aren't sure what to do  
          and fear being sued or arrested if they take unauthorized steps  
          to free an animal.  [ . . . ] AB 797 includes thoughtful  
          language that increases protection for animals but also prevents  
          vigilantism. Intervention is carefully defined and kept as a  
          last resort only to be used when all other options have been  
          exhausted and the animal is in visible distress. This bill also  
          spells out steps for after an animal has been removed to ensure  
          that emergency care is provided and pets are returned to their  
          owners appropriately."


          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION:     The California Federation of Dog  
          Clubs (CFODC) states in opposition: 









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            It would be impossible in most cases to determine if a dog is  
            in "imminent danger from heat, cold, lack of adequate  
            ventilation, lack of food or water, or other [undefined]  
            circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause  
            suffering, disability, or death to the animal."  [ . . . ]  
            There have already been many cases where well-intended  
            bystanders broke into a vehicle to "rescue" a dog, alarmed  
            because it may be exhibiting normal, non-distressed behavior  
            like panting or barking, or may be safely confined in a crate.  
             A "rescuer" could put himself at risk of being bitten, put  
            the dog at risk of being lost or hit by a car, and put the  
            public at risk due to an escaped dog-at-large.  The  
            unfortunate owner could find himself liable for unwarranted  
            damages to his property, suffering the loss of his pet and  
            would have no recourse for damage to the car or the loss or  
            death of his dog in the course of the "rescue."  He may even  
            find himself sued for a dog bite situation!


            This bill is of particular concern to those who participate in  
            dog events and activities involving multiple dogs which may  
            spend time being responsibly housed in a motor home or other  
            vehicle.  Dog enthusiasts are highly aware of the dangers of  
            temperature extremes in vehicles, and are rarely guilty of  
            putting their valued animals at-risk in such dangerous  
            situations. 


            The CFODC believes that "rescue" should be handled by  
            professionals who, in the vast majority of cases, can be on  
            the scene within minutes, and who are better prepared and  
            equipped to deal with assessment and intervention in such  
            situations. [Emphasis omitted.]


          ASSEMBLY FLOOR:  77-0, 4/30/15
          AYES:  Achadjian, Alejo, Travis Allen, Baker, Bigelow, Bloom,  
            Bonilla, Bonta, Brough, Brown, Burke, Calderon, Chang, Chau,  
            Chiu, Chu, Cooley, Cooper, Dababneh, Dahle, Daly, Dodd,  
            Eggman, Frazier, Beth Gaines, Gallagher, Cristina Garcia,  
            Eduardo Garcia, Gatto, Gipson, Gonzalez, Gordon, Gray, Grove,  
            Hadley, Harper, Roger Hernández, Holden, Irwin, Jones,  
            Jones-Sawyer, Kim, Lackey, Levine, Linder, Lopez, Low,  
            Maienschein, Mathis, Mayes, McCarty, Medina, Melendez, Mullin,  







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            Nazarian, Obernolte, O'Donnell, Olsen, Patterson, Perea,  
            Quirk, Rendon, Ridley-Thomas, Rodriguez, Salas, Santiago,  
            Steinorth, Mark Stone, Thurmond, Ting, Wagner, Waldron, Weber,  
            Wilk, Williams, Wood, Atkins
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Campos, Chávez, Gomez

          Prepared by:Ronak Daylami / JUD. / (916) 651-4113
          8/3/16 18:43:13


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