Did you know that on a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rapidly rise to dangerous and possibly fatal levels. For example, within 10 minutes on an 85-degree day, the temperature can reach 102 degrees inside a car, even with the windows opened slightly. After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees! People still insist on leaving their pets in their cars, no matter how often they hear tragic stories of animals dying from exposure to extreme heat on the news.
In March of 2016, Florida Gov. Rick Scott passed a bill making it legal to break into locked vehicles to rescue pets or vulnerable people believed to be in imminent danger of suffocation or other harm.
According to the bill text, it provides immunity from civil liability for damage to a motor vehicle related to the rescue of a person or domestic animal under circumstances. “Domestic animal” is used to describe a dog, cat, or other animals that are domesticated and may be kept as a household pet. This does not include livestock or other farm animals. There are a few basic rules to follow before deciding to break car windows for the sake of a pet’s safety:
- Check to make sure the vehicle is actually locked.
- Have a reasonable belief, based upon the known circumstance, that entering into the vehicle is necessary because the pet is in imminent danger.
- Call 911 or law enforcement either before or immediately after breaking into the vehicle.
- Use only the necessary amount of force to break in.
- Remain with the animal until first-responders arrive on the scene.
Remember, your pets are part of your family! Don’t leave your furry friends in the car… not even for a minute. It’s not acceptable to leave your pet in the car unattended even with the car running, or with the air conditioner on. If you see a pet left in a parked car in the heat of the day and are concerned for its safety, immediately report it to law enforcement if you don’t feel comfortable breaking the window. Keep your pets cool and safe during the summer months, check out our article on keeping your pets safe during the summer heat.