Can You Legally Break a Window in Louisiana to Rescue a Dog?
Back in June of 2018, we all heard about the lady from Bossier City, Louisiana who accidentally 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. And, sadly, that case isn't the only one. It's just the one, for whatever reason, that's burned into my brain.
What's It Like to Be Locked in a Hot Car on a summer day in Shreveport?
We all know how hot and brutal it can be during the summer in Shreveport. It's consistently in the 90s & 100s during the summer months (and sometimes even beyond). But, beyond just the normal heat, the science for heat in a confined space like a locked car is pretty crazy and eye opening.
The Franklin Pet hospital posted some interesting stats behind this on their website:
On a 75-degree day, the inside of a parked car can climb to 110 degrees in minutes. In 20 minutes on a 90-degree day, the same car can get up to 130 degrees inside.
And, unlike humans, dogs can't sweat. So, their body temp goes rises even fast than that of humans and their anxiety goes through the roof. Both of which can lead to a dangerous situation for the pup.
What Can We Legally Do If We See a Pet in Distress in Louisiana?
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 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 there are many horrid pet owners that will put their pets in harm's way without regard for life or make a fatal mistake that costs a poor pet their 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.