03/26/2015 08:12 EDT | Updated 05/26/2015 05:59 EDT

Distressed dogs law would allow overheated animals to be rescued from cars

Local authorities should be allowed to break into cars and save distressed and overheated animals, says B.C. NDP MLA Selina Robinson.

"What we are looking for is to be able to rescue animals that are in distress, while it is happening," Robinson said Thursday in Victoria. "We don't have legislation to allow local government to act on that in any shape or form."

Robinson is proposing legislation that would give municipal bylaw officers the power to intervene and rescue animals found in distress.

Currently, 26 SPCA officers already have that power in the province and, last year, there were more than 800 complaints of dogs seen in distress.

But B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said the onus is on owners to act more responsibly, and that more work is needed before a decision on legislation can be made.

"While we continue to look at options, I would encourage all British Columbians who have animals to take the best care of them," the minister said.

In 2011, the province made changes to the animal cruelty laws, creating a $75,000 fine for someone causing distress.