Proposed Law Would Legalize ‘Mouth-to-Snout’ Pet Resuscitation in California

After an unconscious Shih Tzu mix with no pulse was removed from a burning apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., last spring, firefighter Andrew Klein spent 20 minutes giving him CPR and mouth-to-snout resuscitation. His valiant efforts worked: the little dog, named Nala, regained consciousness and was even able to get up and walk.

The tale of the “miracle dog” brought back to life went viral and Klein was rightfully hailed as a hero – but he is also a lawbreaker.

That’s right: Under the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act in California, only licensed veterinarians are allowed to perform life-saving first aid like mouth-to-snout resuscitation on dogs and cats, even in dire emergencies. For doing so, they face up to a $2,000 fine and the possibility of a year in jail. First responders can also be sued for taking these life-saving actions.

Fortunately, bless their hearts, many paramedics and firefighters, like Klein, have no problem breaking this law. Even more fortunately, if a bill (SB 1305) introduced this month by California Sen. Steve Glazer is passed, emergency responders will no longer have to be concerned about fines or jail time for saving pets’ lives.

“Any first responder who puts mouth to snout to save a poor pooch’s or kitty’s life deserves only high praise and encouragement,” Glazer said in a statement. “We should reward, not punish, those who protect our pets.”

The bill was suggested by a veterinarian, Dr. Jay Kerr, who stated that it would allow pets to “receive the critical emergency medical services that might allow them to reach the veterinarian for whatever care they require.”

If SB 1305 passes, emergency medical personnel will be able to legally perform first-aid treatment on dogs and cats (but not other animals). Along with mouth-to-snout resuscitation, this includes opening and manually maintaining an airway, using pet oxygen masks, controlling hemorrhaging, immobilizing fractures and – something especially important during this nationwide opioid crisis — administrating naloxone, a quick-acting antidote for overdoses.

The bill would also exempt these providers of preveterinary emergency care. along with their employers, from liability for civil damages, and would exempt them from other disciplinary action for providing that care, unless it constitutes misconduct. Preveterinary emergency care would not, however, include treatment in response to emergency calls regarding an injured dog or cat unless a human’s life would be placed in danger if they tried to save the life of that animal.

It’s pretty surprising that fewer than half of all U.S. states – California will become the 23rd if SB 1305 passes – carry laws that permit first responders to save our pets’ lives.

In 2016, Ohio passed a law that made it legal for emergency medical technicians and police officers to treat dogs and cats at the scene of an emergency before transferring them to a veterinary care facility. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Ginter, wanted to ensure that law enforcement officers would be legally able to render first aid to their K9 partners if they, for example, accidentally ingested opioids like fentanyl, which can kill a dog within minutes.

Take Action!

California needs to join Ohio and the other states that allow emergency responders to perform first aid on dogs and cats. Please sign and share this petition urging lawmakers to pass this bill.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

107 comments

Marie W
Marie W25 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Lesa D
Lesa D6 months ago

why would this be ILLEGAL??? i'm sorry but i guess you will just have to fine me & put me in jail for saving an animal's life...
#80150 petition signed...

thank you Laura...

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M6 months ago

Already signed

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kathy bonard
kathy bonard6 months ago

A life is a life be it human or animal,all have a right to live.

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sheena a
sheena arsenault6 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Kathy G
Kathy G6 months ago

Thank you

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R6 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Lenore K
Lenore K6 months ago

good

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