Can you legally smash a car window to rescue a hot pet?

Yes, if you comply with a few conditions

WWL Newsroom
August 07, 2019 - 6:26 am

This is the hottest part of the summer in Louisiana, and yet people will still leave their pets in parked cars.  

WWL's Patty Burnaman found that Louisiana is on the cutting edge of legislation to protect a citizen who breaks a window to rescue a pet in distress. According to legal analyst , Tim Meche,  certain rules do exists to protect the citizen who rescues an animal.

"Louisiana is one of only approximately 15 states that insulates from liability a citizen who can break into a vehicle to rescue a cat or dog that's under distress," according to Meche.  "Certain preconditions have to apply."

Here is a look at the law and those conditions that apply before someone does smash a vehicle's window to rescue the animal...

There shall be no liability on the part of a person for property damage or trespass to a motor vehicle, if the damage was caused while the person was rescuing an animal in distress.

The person must first do the following:

  1. make a good-faith attempt to locate the owner before forcibly entering the vehicle (based on the circumstances);
  2. contact local law enforcement/911 before forcibly entering;
  3. determine the vehicle is locked and has a good-faith belief there is no other reasonable means for the animal to be removed;
  4. believe that removal of the animal is necessary because the animal is in imminent danger of death;
  5. use no more force than necessary to rescue the animal;
  6. place a notice on the windshield providing details including contact information and the location of the animal; and
  7. remain with the animal in a safe location reasonably close to the vehicle until first responders arrive.

How do you safely cool down an animal in heat distress?  

Veterinarian Dr. Rollie Norris from Ark Animal Hospital says first get the pet to a shaded area, and make an effort to bring the body temperature down. 

He recommends you wet some towels in cool water and place these under the armpits and in the groin area and, if the animal is coherent, offer some cool - not cold - water to drink.

Norris says you can also put the animal in cool water, but do NOT bathe in ice, this will send the animal into shock.  

Finally, he says, get to the veterinary emergency room as soon as possible.  Prolonged heat exposure can result in internal organ damage, brain and kidney damage and can lead to death.

Today's forecast calls for highs in the 90s with a heat index making it feel as hot as 108 degrees.

A study by San Francisco State University states that in just 80 degree weather, in as little as 10 minutes, the temperature inside of a car rises to 99 degrees, even in the shade with windows rolled down a little bit. 

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