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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas State Representative Jason Villalba of Dallas authored and filed House Bill 401 “to guarantee the safety of children and pets all across Texas.”

The bill is aimed at making it so good Samaritans don’t face criminal charges and are not held liable for breaking into a vehicle to save a child or an animal in danger.

“The safety of my community has always been a top priority for me,” said the Republican State Representative. “By filing this bill I am asking the Legislature to think about the well-being of our children and our furry family members. ”

According to Villalba’s office, 39 children across the nation have died due to heat stroke as a result of being left in a hot car this year, 7 of whom were young Texans.

House Bill 401 “will allow citizens to forcibly enter a vehicle to save a child or an animal without fear of civil or criminal penalty.They must also notify law enforcement before removing the individual or pet and stay in a nearby location until law enforcement arrives.”

“In an emergency, good Samaritans should not be punished for taking heroic actions to rescue a pet,” said Laura Donahue, Executive Director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network. “On a 75 degree day, within 20 minutes, temperatures inside a sealed vehicle can exceed a hundred degrees.” Katie Jarl, Senior State Director for the Humane Society of the United States added, “Texans care a lot about their pets and this legislation is one more way we can help to protect them from an unnecessary death. The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to Representative Villalba for his continued efforts to represent our animal companions.”

Under current law, it is a Class C misdemeanor to leave a child under the age of 7 unattended in a car for more than five minutes.

“In Texas, we have notoriously harsh summers,” said Rep. Villalba. “House Bill 401 simply provides another avenue to keep our beloved children and pets safe from extreme conditions.”

Villalba represents Lake Highlands, Preston Hollow and North West Dallas in the Texas House of Representatives.

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