A new California law states that if you’re concerned about a vehicle-bound animal, and can’t find the owner, it's legal for you to break into the vehicle to rescue the dog or cat, but only if you call the authorities first. You have to wait with the dog until an authority (animal control, police, fire department, law or 911 emergency service) to arrives at the scene for a reasonable amount of time. But, if the situation looks dire and the animal is in danger, you can break that window without facing criminal charges.
At Anderson Behel in Santa Clara, CA we love our pets and we often hear about awful stories where people have accidentally left their animals in hot cars here in the South Bay. So, that is why we wanted to share this intriguing blog with you.
The understanding of this law is that if you go through the proper steps, you’re in the clear and protected from both civil and criminal liabilities that exempt you from having to pay for things such as property damage or trespassing. But, unfortunately, there are several gray areas with this new law and in some cases, it is confusing people more than anything else. Some people in the media have weighed in and stated that if you’re a person of color, a police officer or even a bystander, people might not realize that you’re trying to save an animal and that's where the problems could arise.
The sole intention of the law is to protect the animals. As animal activists and advocates remind people every summer, it takes simply 15 minutes for a hot animal to suffer serious brain damage. Recently, the police arrested a woman in Ontario, CA after a dead dog was found in the back of a her vehicle and another distressed dog and cat were rescued.
The whole point is that you can’t be over zealous and just break someone’s window without reason. The animal has to be in danger of dying, and that is the purpose of the law, designed to significantly reduce the number of instances when an animal is left in a car.
"We don't want a bunch of deputized dog savers trolling around in parking lots breaking windows," Bill Salmon, animal activist in Los Angeles said. "This is a good law and it will save animals' lives, but I believe it needs to be further defined to be even more effective."
Sources: LA Times, CNN and San Diego Tribune