Good Samaritan Law Expanded to Dogs in Tennessee

If residents of Tennessee see a dog in a hot car, they are lawfully allowed to break into the vehicle to save the animal.

If residents of Tennessee see a dog in a hot car, they are lawfully allowed to break into the vehicle to save the animal.

This time of year we always see an abundance of stories of people leaving their dogs in hot cars. It’s distressing to see how many people do this when it happening even once is one time too many. Dog lovers who see this want to do everything they can to help. If the dog doesn’t appear to be in distress, perhaps calling the police and seeking out the dog’s human are the best options.

Hot Car

Aleksander Bochenek/iStock/Thinkstock

But what about when the dog is clearly suffering? Our first instinct is to break into the car to save the dog and deal with the consequences – which could include an arrest – later. Unfortunately, in many places the Good Samaritan law, which allows for this action if a child is locked in a hot car, does not extend to animals. Ever since July 1, 2015, that is no longer true in Tennessee. According to WKRN, “the measure protects people from civil liability if they damage a car while trying to rescue an animal in danger.” However, those seeking to save the animal must notify the police and attempt to find the dog’s human first.

Mike Franklin, Chief of Staff for Nashville Fire Department, told WKRN, “If you act reasonably, as any reasonable person would respond, you will not be at fault to save a life. You will not be at any fault to save a life and or animals.”

Given how quickly a car can heat up and how likely a dog will not survive such heat, we think this is a huge step forward. We hope all states extend the Good Samaritan law to include pets.

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