Georgia House defeats bill protecting people who rescue dogs from hot cars

An effort to give “good Samaritans” cover when rescuing an animal from a hot car failed in the Georgia House on Monday.

House members voted 108-46 against the measure.

Under Senate Bill 32, sponsored by Marietta Republican state Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, anyone who damaged a car to save an animal would have been required to call 911 or animal control and wait for emergency responders to arrive to avoid being sued.

Kirkpatrick said she was disappointed by the vote and planned to regroup to see if there was another way to tackle the issue.

“It’s just really surprising because people say they love animals and then they have a problem with rescuing animals that are in distress,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Several House members said they were concerned about language in the bill that  gave leeway to people who “reasonably” believed a pet in a car was in danger of dying.

Speaking against the bill, Griffin Republican state Rep. David Knight said he worried about requiring owners to pay for the damage when it's not always clear if a vehicle has the air conditioning running, for example.

“I hate people who treat animals with disdain and with no respect, but also know there are people out there whose judgment is far over the hill about animals,” Knight said. “They think that animals are human and they actually care about animals more than they care about humans. Those are the people who are going to be breaking your windows and making irrational judgments.”