BOSTON (CBS) — Flanked by several canine constituents, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bipartisan bill Wednesday that protects pets left in hot cars–as well as those who break them out in order to rescue them.

Bill 2369, also known as An Act Preventing Animal Suffering and Death, allows passersby to rescue animals trapped in hot vehicles if they believe the animal is in imminent danger, without facing charges for any damage to those vehicles–as long as they make “reasonable efforts” to find the vehicle’s owner.

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As the bill’s supporters held dogs of all sizes in front of the State House Wednesday, Gov. Baker, a dog owner himself, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope that the measure had big support in his home.

“This particular bill had six votes in our house–it had the votes of my wife, my three kids, myself, and our dog Lucy, who reminds me every single day why this is the sort of thing that would be so important to people here in the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Baker.

State lawmakers passed the bill on August 12. Sen. Mark Montigny is the main sponsor of the measure.

“I truly believe today, even this ceremony will educate people to know what they can do,” said Sen. Montigny. “And that is, when they see an animal in distress, smash the window. The animal comes first, the irresponsible animal owner, not so much.”

The bill also sets fines of up to $500 and the possibility of animal cruelty charges for those who neglect animals in hot cars, and puts restrictions on owners leaving dogs tethered in extreme weather.

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Kara Holmquist, Director of Advocacy for the MSPCA, said the bill allows police to write civil citations if animals are kept in cruel conditions.

“It’ll help get animals out of some situations that are cruel and whether they’re suffering, quicker,” said Holmquist. “You look at the heat wave that we’ve had this summer, and the number of incidences that have happened. There’s been several news reports of animals that have been taken out of hot cars. Some have died.”

Also present at the bill signing were Sen. Bruce Tarr, Rep. Lori Ehrlich, and many other supporters of the bill–including pooches like Chloe and Gumdrop.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports

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