Can You Legally Break a Window to Save a Dog From a Hot Car?
In June of 2018, we all heard about Nancy Louise Western from Bossier who killed her 2 Labrador retrievers and Cocker Spaniel because she left them in her hot car during a doctor's visit. I remember being so upset and wishing I could have been there and broken a window and let the dogs out.
What happens if you see a dog locked in a hot car? What can you legally do? I personally can't imagine passing by an animal in distress and be okay with it. I would have to do something. Does the law protect me from doing what's right?
Only 28 states have a “Good Samaritan” law. It allows any person to break a car window to save a minor, a pet, or a companion. Luckily for us in Louisiana, we are free to take the necessary measures to save a life.
Thank you to ACT No. 360 "RS 37:1738.1 provides that a person is not liable for property damage or trespass to a motor vehicle if the damage was caused while rescuing an animal in distress if certain conditions are met, including making a good-faith attempt to locate the owner of the motor vehicle, contacting law enforcement, determining the vehicle is locked and using only the force reasonably necessary to rescue the animal. The animal is defined as any dog or cat kept for pleasure, companionship or other purposes that are not purely commercial.”
It's sad that so many of us need to be armed with this information, but the truth is, much like Nancy Louise Western from Bossier, there are many horrid pet owners that will put their pets in harm's way without regard for life.
Please be aware of your surroundings, if you see a pet in distress, first try to locate the owner, if you can't locate them contact law enforcement before you break the window.