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P.A.W.S. Act Unanimously Passes Florida Legislature

February 15, 2016

Joining in the unanimous approval of the House, the Florida Senate unanimously approved the "Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety Act," or "P.A.W.S. Act."  The P.A.W.S. Act makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to endanger an animal's well-being by confining the animal to an unattended motor vehicle.  Additionally, the P.A.W.S. Act authorizes citizens to rescue the animal provided the citizen has been instructed to do so by a 911 operator, law enforcement agency, or fire department.


Here in the Sunshine State, animals are especially vulnerable to confinement.  Even on a seventy-degree day, a parked car will exceed one hundred degrees within twenty minutes.  Medium-sized dogs will suffer heat stroke if their core temperature reaches 103° Fahrenheit.  Once signed by the Governor, the P.A.W.S. Act will put Florida in the vanguard of "hot car laws."  Currently, only sixteen states criminalize the confinement of an animal in life-threatening conditions.  Only Tennessee immunizes private citizens from civil liability arising from rescue efforts.



For more information, see:

  • Selina Iglesias, Greene Publishing, Inc., "Florida Senate passes hot car law," February 23, 2016,

  • Rebecca F. Wisch, Animal Legal & Historical Center, "Table of State Laws that Protect Animals Left in Parked Vehicles," 2015,










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