BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 797


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          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS


          AB  
          797 (Steinorth and Santiago)


          As Amended  August 1, 2016


          Majority vote


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          |ASSEMBLY:  |      | (April 30,    |SENATE: | 37-0 | (August 15,     |
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                 (vote not relevant)




          Original Committee Reference:  A. & A.R.


          SUMMARY:  Exempts a person from civil and criminal liability for  
          property damage or trespass to a motor vehicle if the property  
          damage or trespass occurred while the person was rescuing an  
          animal under specified circumstances.


          The Senate amendments delete the Assembly version of this bill,  
          and instead:  


          1)Provide that a person is not prevented 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  








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            circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause  
            suffering, disability, or death to the animal.


          2)Provide that a person who removes an animal from a vehicle in  
            accordance with 1), above is not criminally liable for actions  
            taken reasonably and in good faith if the person does all of  
            the following:


             a)   Determines the vehicle is locked or there is otherwise  
               no reasonable manner for the animal to be removed from the  
               vehicle.


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


             c)   Has contacted a local law enforcement agency, the fire  
               department, animal control, or the "911" emergency service  
               prior to forcibly entering the vehicle.


             d)   Remains with the animal in a safe location, out of the  
               elements but reasonably close to the vehicle, until a peace  
               officer, humane officer, animal control officer, or another  
               emergency responder arrives.


             e)   Used no more force to enter the vehicle and remove the  
               animal from the vehicle than was necessary under the  
               circumstances.


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









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          3)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 provisions specified in 2) above.  Clarify  
            that this immunity from civil liability for property damage to  
            a motor vehicle does not affect a person's civil liability or  
            immunity from civil liability for rendering aid to an animal.


          4)Clarify that firefighters are included among those public  
            officers that are authorized under existing law to follow  
            specified procedures to rescue an animal from a motor vehicle.


          EXISTING LAW:   


          1)Prohibits 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, or lack of food or water, or other  
            circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause  
            suffering, disability, or death to the animal.  (Penal Code  
            Section (PEN) 597.7 (a).)


          2)Provides that a first conviction for violation of the above  
            rule is punishable by a fine not exceeding $100 per animal,  
            unless the animal suffers great bodily injury, in which case  
            the violation is punishable by a fine not exceeding $500,  
            imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by  
            both a fine and imprisonment.  Further provides that any  
            subsequent violation of this section, regardless of injury to  
            the animal, is also punishable by a fine not exceeding $500,  
            imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by  
            both a fine and imprisonment.  (PEN 597.7 (b).)


          3)Clarifies that these provisions do not prevent any peace  
            officer, humane officer, or animal control officer from  








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            following specified procedures to rescue an animal from a  
            motor vehicle.  (PEN 597.7 (c).)


          FISCAL EFFECT:  None


          COMMENTS:  This bill, co-sponsored by the Humane Society of the  
          United States and the Los Angeles District Attorney, seeks to  
          establish specified immunity from civil and criminal liability  
          for any person who acts to rescue an animal facing imminent  
          danger while left unattended in a motor vehicle.


          According to 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."


          Existing law prohibits any 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, or lack of food or water, or  
          other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause  
          suffering, disability, or death to the animal.  Violations of  
          this rule range from up to $100 for a first conviction if the  
          animal does not suffer great bodily injury, or up to $500 and  
          six months' in county jail, or both, if the animal does suffer  
          great bodily injury.  In order to encourage the rescue of  
          animals in such circumstances, this bill would authorize a  
          person to take 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.









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          In order to receive immunity from criminal and civil liability  
          under this bill, a person seeking to rescue an animal must  
          strictly follow specific steps identified by this bill prior to  
          entering the vehicle, including:  1) determining the vehicle is  
          locked or that there is otherwise no reasonable manner for the  
          animal to be removed from the vehicle; 2) having 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; and 3) contacting local law enforcement prior to  
          forcibly entering the vehicle.


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


          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
          Anthony Lew / JUD. / (916) 319-2334  FN: 0003736