On Thursday, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill to allow emergency responders permission to break in and save dogs or other animals in hot cars.
The legislation, if passed in the Senate, will allow rescue workers, animal control officers, and firefighters to use "any reasonable means" to enter a vehicle if they suspect an animal is at risk, the Charlotte Observer reported.
The bill specifies that officials may respond to "conditions that are likely to cause suffering, injury, or death to the animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or under other endangering conditions."
Responders must first make "a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person responsible for the animal," according to WRAL.
Guilford County representative Pricey Harrison co-sponsored the amendment after researching how quickly cars can heat up.
"It was startling to me.. how much more susceptible to hot cars animals are," Harrison told WFMY News 2. "It's as if it's 20 degrees hotter in a hot car to them, and a car can heat up even on an overcast day, and even on a sunny day in December."
In the past year, animal activists have tried to bring attention to the risks of leaving pets in cars. Italian model Elisabetta Canalis starred in a PETA video last July, where she demonstrated how a dog might feel trapped in a hot car. And Dr. Ernie Ward, a North Carolina veterinarian, made a similar video the same month, to show that cracking a car's windows does not alleviate any risks.