Dogs in hot cars. Nothing more infuriating, right? We all know how dangerous it is.
Everyone on social media loves to advise that in California, you can now break a window to save a dog’s life with no repercussions. We applaud this law.
But wait! You could be on the hook for damaging a vehicle (or worse) if you don’t follow the legally proscribed steps.
By law, a citizen must FIRST call law enforcement to report a situation in which he or she believes an animal to be in peril.
Then, and only then, if the animal is in imminent danger, the car is locked, and law enforcement is not arriving quickly enough to save the animal’s life, the bill provides immunity from civil and criminal liability to a person causing vehicle damage for the purpose of rescuing the animal.
Be sure the animal is in serious distress before you shatter that window. Is it barking? Excited? Then it is NOT yet in serious distress. If it appears unconscious or otherwise compromised, it may be.
In short: CALL LAW ENFORCEMENT FIRST before you take matters into your own hands. It’s also wise to make a reasonable effort to find the dog’s owner by asking nearby businesses to page their customers. In Calaveras County, the non-emergency sheriff’s department number (do not call 911 for overheated dogs in cars, please) is (209) 754-6500.