TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX)-A bill designed to protect first-responders from civil liability and criminal prosecution for rescuing pets from extreme weather has advanced through the Idaho Statehouse.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Elaine Smith (D-Pocatello), says The Dog and Cat Rescue Act would protect both animals and the people that are called to rescue them. According to information released by House and Senate Democrats, the bill would provide the same legal protections to police, fire and emergency medical personnel get when they rescue people. Democratic lawmakers cite a 2018 study that found nearly 50 percent of pet owners admitted to leaving them in a car at some point.

“It’s time Idaho catch up when protecting our furry friends,” Smith said in a prepared statement. “It is alarming how many pets are still left unattended in vehicles. It is even more unfortunate when those dogs and cats die. Protecting our first-responders from civil liability and prosecution encourages them to act and prevent further deaths.”

Neighboring states Nevada, Washington and Oregon have adopted similar laws along with 25 other states. The bill will get a full hearing at the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee.

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