A push is on to give bylaw officers across B.C. new powers to rescue pets in distress.

The provincial New Democrats introduced a bill Thursday that would give local officials the right to smash car windows to save overheated pets and ticket their owners.

Selina Robinson, New Democratic spokesperson on local government, said the SPCA doesn’t have enough protection officers working in the province to respond to the overwhelming amount of calls about dogs locked in hot cars.

“In 2014 they received well over 1,000 calls,” said Robinson. “The BC SPCA only has 26 special provincial constables working across the province, and must liaise with RCMP and municipal bylaw enforcement to respond to these urgent calls.”

The NDP says cases like 2014’s Brookswood 6, where six dogs died in an overheated pickup truck, point to a need for laws with tougher teeth to protect animals in B.C.

The BC SPCA is throwing its support behind the bill, saying it would absolutely lead to a reduction in the amount of pet deaths.

“If it’s passed, it can and will potentially save lives,” the SPCA’s Erica Paul told reporters outside of the B.C. legislature.

The NDP is calling on the BC Liberals to approve the bill, but Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said it’s up to pet owners to take care of their animals.

“It really comes back to responsibility,” he told CTV News.

He pointed to changes to animal cruelty laws made in 2011, creating stricter fines for neglectful pet owners. Someone found guilty of animal neglect could face a $75,000 fine and two years in jail for neglect.

Have your say: Would you like to see this bill passed?