Every once in a while, a law comes around that makes you wonder about its inspiration.
In Baltimore, it's illegal to take a lion to the movies. In Arizona, donkeys may not sleep in bathtubs.
A bill introduced in May by New York State Assemb. John Ceretto (R-Lewiston) would make it legal for bystanders to break into a car to save a pet in distress from extreme weather. So if pets are part of the family, why do we need a reminder to not put them in life-threatening situations?CartoonMatt Davies' latest cartoon: HourglassCommentSubmit your letterReader essaysGet published in Newsday
Ceretto said his bill, which if approved would be the second law of its kind in the country, came in response to an incident in Georgia this year when an Army veteran broke a car window to save a dog in distress. He was later charged in a complaint by the dog's owner with criminal trespassing. Ceretto's bill would provide legal protection for those acting "reasonably and in good faith" to save an animal locked in a car under extreme heat or cold.
There are apparently some very absent-minded and neglectful pet owners. We need a law to protect the cute from the ignorant without getting the vigilant in trouble.
Unfortunately, Ceretto's bill got nowhere in the most recent legislative session, but it should act as an advisory for the remainder of this summer and even next winter: Don't leave man's best friend in a four-wheeled oven. On a 90-degree day, the temperature inside of a car can quickly top 100 degrees, even with the windows partially down.
In a promotional video for pet safety, Arizona Cardinals player Tyrann Mathieu endured 90-degree heat in a parked car to test the human limit. Within four minutes, the temperature inside the car was 105 degrees. At that temperature, a dog's organs begin to fail, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Mathieu only lasted four more minutes before surrendering with a shirt drenched in sweat. At least he could unlock the door.
Still, this bill, which is co-sponsored by four Long Island assemblymen, raises questions as to how long a bystander should wait for the owner to return and what an animal in "imminent danger" looks like. Still, those acting in good faith should always call police first and exhaust every other option before causing any physical damage.
It seems obvious to never take a lion to the movies, but it also seems obvious to not lock our furry friends in vehicles. We may be the most intelligent species on the planet, but time and again we have proved that we lock our common sense away in our cars along with our pets, and we need a law to protect those who remind us.
Christopher Leelum, a student at Stony Brook University, is an intern with Newsday and amNewYork.