Toward the end of last year, California finally made it a law to protect citizens who, in good faith and after exhausting all other options to no avail, break into hot vehicles to rescue a dog. Since the law has gone into effect, there have been few incidences where such action needed to take place. Now, summer is here and for the first time since the law went into effect, the temperatures will consistently top 70 and 80 degrees daily. This means that more dogs are vulnerable to being left alone in hot vehicles while their owner runs an errand.
There are certain steps and conditions in order for the individual, who broke into the car, to be protected from criminal charges.
- The person first must be certain that there is no way of opening the vehicle without breaking in.
- The person must identify the dog inside the hot vehicle is indeed suffering and in danger.
- The person must call the police to let them know of the situation and they must stay on-site with the dog until the police arrive.
On a hot day, the temperature outside is more bearable than the inside of a vehicle. For example, on an 80 degree day, a car can get as hot as 120 degrees within 10 minutes. If it is 90 degrees outside, the car can reach 150 degrees.
While this Good Samaritan law protects individuals who break into a hot vehicles to save a pet, it does not truly protect them if they were to break into a car to save another human life, like that of a child. That is a legal grey area that California lawmakers must still work on.