Finally, in Florida It’s Legal to Break Into a Locked Car to Rescue Pets or People
A House Bill has been signed into law by Republican Governor Rick Scott, allowing Floridians to break into locked automobiles to rescue animals or vulnerable people who are “in imminent danger of suffering harm.” This bill comes as a direct response to the growing number of incidents where pets and children (especially babies) have died because they have been left in overheated cars.
However, the new law will only protect breaking into a vehicle under strict guidelines. If you’re faced with the situation, here’s what you need to know:
- First must be one hundred percent certain that the vehicle is locked.
- After doing so, call 911 or law enforcement before entering the vehicle (or immediately after rescuing the child or pet).
- Finally, use no more force than is necessary to break in — and remain with the person or animal until first-responders arrive.
- It might still be considered as breaking the law if excessive force was used.
Even Opening a Window Does Not Mean Temperatures Inside the Car Cannot be Fatal
Protecting Dogs in Hot Cars is Now Legal in 16 States
Imagine nice breezy summer weather and you notice a parked car as you stroll with friends. The window is slightly open but you notice a dog panting on the backseat. It looks uncomfortable and stressed.
Should you do something? It’s a fair question when you remember that some people made the headlines after having been arrested for intervening in similar situations.
A mild 70 degrees F temperature outside can within minutes climb to 90 degrees F and beyond. That means the dog is literally sitting inside an oven.
Many states have no clear rules regarding the legality of leaving a pet in a vehicle unattended. although offenders frequently do face animal cruelty charges. However, 16 US states do have quite specific hot car laws. See The Animal Legal & Historical Center reports.
States that Do Have Laws Protecting Dogs in Hot Cars:
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
What Happens When the Law Does not Protect Rescuers – Veteran Smashes Window to Save a Dog from a Hot Car and Gets Arrested
In Georgia a Desert Storm veteran took matters into his own hands and saved a dog in distress. Outside temperatures were in the high 80s when some shoppers noticed a small dog locked inside a car.
Instead of waiting for rescue services to turn up, which might be too late to save the dog’s life, Mr. Michael Hammons stepped up to the plate. he grabbed a part from his wife’s wheelchair in order to smash one of the car windows.
“I’ve seen enough death and destruction,” Mr Hammons said, remembering his experience in combat.
Eventually the owner of the dog and car returned. Instead of being grateful, she had Mr. Hammons arrested for criminal trespassing. By the way, she was herself cited for leaving the dog in the car in the first place.
Georgia law only allows a person to break a window to save a child, not a pet.
The charges against Michael Hammons were later dropped. Animal advocates insist the law be changed.
It’s Legal to Bust Dogs Out of Hot Cars in These States:
Police Rescue a Dog from a Hot Car by Smashing a Window
A 12-year-old Yorkshire Terrier was rescued by police recently. The officers smashed a car window to save the life of a dog trapped inside as temperatures began to soar in a recent heatwave.
The Yorkshire Terrier was panting for air and attempting to find in the footwell when the police came on the scene.
They found the dog in “extreme distress” with no water or fresh air at the Duke Street car park in Bulwell as temperatures began to soar. They had to smash a window to get the panting pet back to a comfortable temperature. At 10 am on Monday, July 18, when they found the dog, the Met Office recorded 19.6C in Nottingham, but temperatures later rose to over 24C by 2 pm. Local vets have said leaving dogs alone in cars during hot weather can be “rapidly fatal”.
The RSPCA put out a stark warning last week to show what can happen if a dog is left in a hot car.
But despite countless examples police are still having to step in to prevent pets from roasting to death.
Teaching a Lesson: Police Officer Tells a Woman to Sit in Her Hot Car After She Left Her Dog Inside
A women left her dog waiting in the car while she went into Walmart. On her return, a police officer was waiting for her and told her to sit in the hot car so she’d understand how the dog felt.
“To prove a point, the officer made the woman sit inside of the warm car with the windows up and without the engine on for a few minutes.
The woman said she was fine but the officer noted she looked uncomfortable. The woman was advised if she did this again she would be cited.”
Apparently, the officer had done this before.
Last year another police officer did the same thing to a woman who left her dog in a hot car in New Mexico.
That woman said that what the officer did was “abusive”.
It was all caught on camera. Is this fair? Or, are police going too far by making people sit in hot cars to teach them the danger?