Bill would give officials power to save overheated pets

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A new bill just introduced in B.C.’s legislature would help prevent animals from suffering or dying inside overheated vehicles.

Presented on Thursday, the proposed Distressed Animals Act would give bylaw officers and local authorities the power to seize animals in distress when they see pets trapped in poorly ventilated cars.

New provincial New Democrats say the bill was spurred by The Brookswood Six, where six dogs were left to die in the back of a hot truck last spring.

The canines, who were in the care of dog walker Emma Paulsen, were left unattended for 40 minutes or more in sweltering heat.

NDP spokesperson Selina Robinson said the BC SPCA received well over 1,000 calls about animals left in hot cars last year alone. She says the agency needs the support of local bylaw officers to get these animals out of those vehicles.

“The BC SPCA only has 26 special provincial constables working across the province, and must liaise with RCMP and municipal bylaw enforcement to respond to these urgent calls,” she said.

The SPCA says even 10 minutes inside a hot vehicle can be fatal to a small animal.

The bill, which must be approved by the BC Liberals before it goes ahead, would also allow bylaw officers to ticket the offending driver.

“These necessary changes would permit first responders to take immediate action and ensure more awareness and compliance so that animals need not die a horrible death while the driver just runs ‘a few errands’” said Robinson.

Someone found guilty of intentionally causing distress to an animal could be fined up to $75,000, under current B.C. laws.

What do you think of the bill?

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Darcy Matheson is the founder of PetFundr, a crowdfunding site for animal welfare projects. Her first book, "Greening Your Pet Care," is available on Amazon and in major book and pet stores.
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