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NFL's Vick touts animal protection bill

Greg Gross
505-5433/@ggrossyd

Pittsburgh Steelers player Michael Vick was in Harrisburg Tuesday to support two animal protection bills with hopes of getting them across the goal line.

The backup quarterback met with Democrats, including Rep. Kevin Schreiber, of York City, in support of the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act, which aims to stop the practice of pet owners leaving animals in unattended cars.

Schreiber and fellow lawmakers unveiled the proposal, which is actually a set of companion measures — House Bill 1516 and  Senate Bill 977 — in in August.

Vick was a star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons when he pleaded guilty in 2007 for his role in a dogfighting ring and served nearly two years in prison. The Hampton, Virginia, native is now a backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and, off the field, an advocate for animal welfare.

"I welcome anyone's support" for the bills, Schreiber said. "Hopefully we can get some traction on it."

What it does: The bills are mirror images of each other and would allow police officers, public safety professionals and humane officers to remove endangered animals from an unattended vehicle, even if it means breaking out a car's window.

It would also require the animal be taken to a veterinarian for a health screening or treatment.Information, including how to contact the officer and where the pet was taken, must be left for the owner.

An officer can't be held liable for damages while trying to get the animal out of a car, leaving the pet owner on the hook to pay for the damage. The bills also would make it a summary offense to leave a cat or dog in an unattended vehicle in extreme heat.

The House version of the bill has been in the House Judiciary Committee since the end of the September and the second bill is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com