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Proposed bill could save the lives of children and animals left in hot vehicles


Saying good Samaritans deserve legal protection, a veteran state lawmaker wants to provide immunity from lawsuits for people who break into hot vehicles to rescue a trapped animal. And kids, too. Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said he was approached by the founder of Don't Leave Me, an organization that tries to protect pets whose owners have left them behind in the car. He said that Debra Nolen, whose activities so far have involved things like public service announcements, wanted legislation to allow bystanders to do more than call the police.

Nolen said the idea originally started as a public service class project when she was teaching health ethics at Chandler Gilbert Community College. It resulted in some public service announcements, a website and even distribution of a chart to translate the outside air temperature to how hot it gets in a vehicle. And it was the result of one of those PSAs with Fountain Hills Mayor Linda Kavanagh that Nolen connected with her husband.

John Kavanagh, who has been an animal-rights advocate, agreed to sponsor the legislation spelling out there is no civil liability for those who act in good faith. “They already provide exemptions for first responders and emergency services people, but not ordinary people,” he noted. “Usually, it's the ordinary people who stumble upon these things first,” Kavanagh continued. “So, it seemed reasonable to provide a blanket coverage as long as the person acts

reasonable.”

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