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Colorado May Shield People Who Break Into Cars To Rescue Kids, Pets

DENVER (CBS) -- Some Colorado lawmakers look to offer protection to Good Samaritans who want to rescue kids and animals.

39 children died of heatstroke after being left in hot cars in the United States in 2016. Pets, mostly dogs, also died after being left in cars, CBS Denver reports.

People who smash vehicle windows in attempt to reach kids or dogs face prosecution. However, State Rep. Lori Saine, said she wants to change that.

"This bill is all about saving lives," she said. "There are situations when police are 30 minutes away from locked vehicles and temperatures soar very quickly. That becomes life-threatening in a very short period of time."

But local police chiefs, sheriffs and animal control officers said the bill may result in some unintended consequences.

Animals control responded to 720 calls of a dog or cat being locked in a car last year in three Colorado counties alone. Only five of those animals were in distress.

Law enforcement officials worry the bill will encourage some people to take matters into their own hands, potentially leading to violence.

Saine said her bill will only grant immunity under certain conditions: A rescuer must first make an effort to find the vehicle owner and call police and there must be evidence that the child or animal is in imminent danger.

"If someone doesn't follow these steps, they are not immune from criminal or civil liability," Saine added.

A handful of states have passed similar bills.

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