Every summer, the media gets swamped with stories of children and animals trapped in hot cars, and, as if that were not enough, the drivers of the vehicles SUING rescuers who had to break the windows out of the cars and/or break in to save these poor victims. In many states, these law suits are valid. You see, it doesn’t matter what the intent is – so long as there is no law protecting those good citizens from doing what is right.
Now, in MANY states there are laws in place protecting those who have to break windows out of vehicles to rescue trapped children; but what about animals? According to the Humane Society, on an 85-degree day, temperatures inside a car – even with its windows slightly opened – can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes, and 120 degrees after 30 minutes. These temperatures are just as unsafe for animals as they are for children, and the longer they’re trapped, the higher the likelihood they will have a heat stroke and, in many cases, die. Because of this, starting this month, Tennessee is added to the list of 16 total states that provide protection to the rescuers of children AND animals.
“As an extension to Tennessee’s “Good Samaritan law” that allows people to break into cars to save children makes it legal to do the same for animals. Specific steps, including searching for the owner and notifying law enforcement, must be taken to qualify for protection under the law.” Source: Time.com.
In order to be protected, the rescuer must ensure that the car is in fact locked by checking all doors and hatches when applicable. He or she must contact law enforcement or enlist someone nearby to do so. He or she must try to find the owner of the vehicle or enlist someone nearby to do so. If it is likely that the victim is in imminent danger and cannot wait until the owner of the vehicle is located or law enforcement arrives (if the victim is already unconscious and unresponsive, lethargic, etc.), the citizen can break into the car to rescue the victim. Always have the person talking with 9-1-1 notify them that a break in is necessary and occurring.