Legislators Propose Bill Protecting Citizens Who Break Car Windows To Save Animals

The law would allow people to take action to free animals from hot cars without the fear of criminal charges.

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The temperature inside a parked car can quickly increase even with the windows cracked. Alper SIRAKAYA/iStock/Thinkstock
The temperature inside a parked car can quickly increase even with the windows cracked. Alper SIRAKAYA/iStock/Thinkstock

Two New York legislators have proposed an amendment to a state law that would allow anyone — not just law enforcement or peace officers — to “take necessary steps” to rescue a dog or cat “in imminent danger due to heat or cold,” The Buffalo News reports.

That means if a bystander saw a distressed dog locked in a hot car, he or she could break the car’s window to save the animal without the fear of facing criminal charges.

“These are extreme situations where a dog absolutely needs help and there is nothing else the individual can do but break that window and save that life,” John Ceretto, one of the legislators behind the bill, told The Buffalo News.

Ceretto said he proposed the legislation after reading about Michael Hammons, a Georgia Army Veteran who was arrested and faced charges of criminal trespass after he broke a car window to rescue a Yorkshire Terrier. (The charges against Hammons were later dropped.) If the amendment passes, New York would be the first state to pass a law protecting citizens who break a window or open a locked door to save an animal’s life.

UPDATE: Tennessee enacted a similar bill on July 1. Read the story here.

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  • THANK YOU. We are the voice of these innocents.

    Ravinder Sngh July 8, 2015 1:40 am Reply
    • So VERY,VERY true!!!

      Carly Chichester July 8, 2015 8:18 am Reply
  • About time steps were taken for people who help animals in dire distress. How is it that some owners still havent learnt about pets in summer in locked vehicles?

    Bluecat July 8, 2015 1:43 am Reply
    • Just what I was wondering ?

      Dena July 8, 2015 9:45 am Reply
  • YES! YES! YES! The Law needs to be changed. Animals are living, breathing organisms that need to receive love, care and RESPECT. If we see an animal (or person) in distress, we absolutely need to do our best to help.

    Dear Heavenly Father, please bless ALL animals. As humans, You have given us the responsibility to care about others that are innocent. PLEASE help humans to always make the right decisions – whether it’s changing the Law or going out of their way to help an animal in need. xo xo xo xo xo xo

    Wendye L Kolles July 8, 2015 2:12 am Reply
    • Thank you, Wendye, for your devoted and loving prayer for the care of animals. May all animals, whether pets or animals in other situations, be treated with love and kindness, as our Lord, Jesus Christ, did here on earth.

      Margaret Davies July 8, 2015 10:32 am Reply
    • Yes, Wendye, and to everyone out there, we certainly DO need to help our beloved pets! However, I would also like to alter Wendye’s prayer to also include…

      Dear Heavenly Father, please bless ALL our unborn babies. As humans, You have given us the responsibility to care about others that are innocent. There is no one more innocent than our precious unborn children. PLEASE help humans to always make the right decisions – whether it’s changing the Law or going out of their way to help an unborn baby in need. xo xo xo xo xo xo

      Amen!

      Debi July 8, 2015 11:27 am Reply
      • A baby trapped in a woman’s body! It must be rescued! Yeah, that’s how apt your analogy was. By the way, congratulations on posting the first off topic comment here.

        in reply July 8, 2015 1:41 pm Reply
        • In response to In Reply … thank you!

          sue July 8, 2015 11:50 pm Reply
      • Unborn puppies and kittens, calves and piglets, etc…all are equally innocent and in need of protection yet, once born, you probably eat half of those I listed. That is a choice and a want, not a need. So, let’s hope your god is helping you to also make the “right decisions.”

        Paja July 29, 2015 8:33 am Reply
  • All 50 States needs this law!

    GremlinsMom July 8, 2015 2:33 am Reply
    • Put the law in every state! Law or not I will rescue any left in a hot car!

      ldrboyle July 8, 2015 7:38 am Reply
    • Yes! Yes! Yes!

      Sharon July 8, 2015 8:32 am Reply
  • Bravo- I agree wholeheartedly

    Diane Williford July 8, 2015 3:15 am Reply
  • Criminal charges or not, I wouldn’t hesitate to smash in a car window to save an animal. This is a law every state in the U.S. and every province in Canada needs to adopt!

    J. David Scott July 8, 2015 4:06 am Reply
    • Canada, USA, everywhere ! I would not walk away from a Fur Kid suffocating & dying in an inferno. Aka vehicle. To save a life criminal charges or not- that Fur Kid would be OUT!!! The “person” aka owner could face criminal charges of animal abuse. We NEED THIS LAW TO PROTECT OUR FUR KIDZ!!!!

      Pam Mattioda July 8, 2015 7:53 am Reply
  • VERY GOOD IDEA!! I THINK ALL THE STATES SHOULD HAVE SUCH A LAW!!

    Brenda Schauber July 8, 2015 4:26 am Reply
  • All states SHOULD have this as a law!! There should be no questions about it.

    Diana Bourgeois July 8, 2015 4:30 am Reply
    • I agree completely. I don’t know when or if people will learn not to do this and I think a lot more animals would be saved if this law was passed in all states.

      Becky July 8, 2015 7:49 am Reply
  • Bravo to the New York State legislature for leading the way. Every state in the Union needs to follow suit.

    Susan Hopkins July 8, 2015 5:10 am Reply
    • I agree, but unfortunately in NC we have a General Assembly that couldn’t care LESS about animals. They continue to pass laws that encourage and cover up animal abuse, rather than doing anything to help. I cannot understand why the people of this state keep electing these IDIOTS!!!!

      Lynn Martin July 8, 2015 7:21 am Reply
  • Thank you! FINALLY Someone with a heart and the desire to make a change for the better in this world. We need to protect these animals that protect us everyday. I am in awe that we have to make a law for something that is just plain common sense. Now if the other 49 states would just get on board.

    Andrea July 8, 2015 5:14 am Reply
    • I agree! ALL STATES should get on board! People should be able to help both animals and children without fear of prosecution!

      Of course, whether or not a bill is passed on other states, I will be one of those people that saves a child or dog from hot locked car!

      Heat is a terrible enemy!

      Trudy O'Neill July 8, 2015 12:19 pm Reply
  • YES!!YES!!! They need to change that, you should be able to help dogs or cats trapped in hot cars. Now they have to pass that down here in Florida too!!! That would be a great addition to pet laws.

    Sandra Glavey July 8, 2015 5:34 am Reply
  • It is a shame that we need a law to protect animals from being left in cars while the temperatures soar. People who do this to their pets need to be left in these hot cars to see what it is like. Pets should be left home on warm/hot days. This law will help if people are threatened with car damage. Obviously they don’t care or are not thinking when it comes to the safety of their pets. I would break a car window in a hot minute to save an animal whose owner was so careless to leave an animal to suffer

    Christine Haley July 8, 2015 5:37 am Reply
  • This should be passed in all states – selfish stupid people should not be allowed to leave pets in a hot car. Leave the pet at home until you can give them your full attention – not wait for you to run errands.

    Suzanne Usry July 8, 2015 5:42 am Reply
  • Florida here. I once suggested to a woman that her two dogs in her car were overheating while she went in for lunch. Her response was that she would not leave them home because her neighbor had lost her dog in a house fire when she left the dog at home. Now how do you change that type of reasoning? I have had eateries refuse to page a customer when their dog was in a hot car. And people get angry when you point out their error no matter how nice you do it.
    Yeah, there needs to be laws everywhere.

    Candice Bredice July 8, 2015 5:48 am Reply
  • Its about time we took the stand to protect our precious pets….WE need to educate people on the dangers of leaving pets and children in hot cars…..Sadly, most people just have NO idea how dangerous it is..Good for New York for being the first to do this..Now, lets get the rest of the country on board…

    Pat Newman, July 8, 2015 5:56 am Reply
  • ALL states need this law now!!!!! I’ve seen to many dogs left in a car without the windows open!!!

    DeeDee Riechel July 8, 2015 6:06 am Reply
  • Would you leave your child, elderly parent in a hot car? Animals for a lot of us ARE OUR children. Be mindful in all respects, I too will/would do whatever is necessary to save friend and foe alike. Wouldn’t you?

    miracle the kelly July 8, 2015 6:22 am Reply
  • All 50 states, I agree there should be a law!

    James Doorey July 8, 2015 6:23 am Reply
  • They are heroes

    Phyllis Hailey July 8, 2015 6:24 am Reply
  • This is a perfect example of love. What a wonderful and caring act.
    Screw the window; at least the animal is okay. Fantastic act.

    Marcy July 8, 2015 6:33 am Reply
  • Law or no law, not only would I smash the window, I would take the animal home with me. Anyone stupid enough to leave their pet in a hot car is too stupid to own a pet.

    K McGrath July 8, 2015 7:16 am Reply
  • I like to ask people how they would feel walking around (or worse, of course, being locked in a hot car) with a fur coat on. Hard to believe that people are still jeopardizing their animals lives like this.

    Erica July 8, 2015 7:20 am Reply
  • This is a perfect law and should be in all 50 states. Instead of going after the person who breaks the windows to save an animal or child, what should happen is hold the individual car operator accountable
    for their actions, arrest that person. We just to weeks ago had a 2 year old child left in a hot car for over 16 hours. The baby died because of this action. I would break the window and not worry about it. A saved life whether covered by skin or fur is a life saved. God bless those two legislators who brought this to the governing body.

    Bettye Tune July 8, 2015 7:33 am Reply
  • Kudos to those that have made it law to rescue animals left in cars to suffer extreme heat or cold temperatures!!! I wish that Canada would also adopt this law as well!!! The rescuers should never be
    penalized for saving a life be it human or fur baby, it breathes, it should be protected!!!

    Lise July 8, 2015 7:55 am Reply
  • Yes! Finally some common sense. I live in Arizona & have called the police when a dog was left in a hot car. I’ve also had people treat me rudely when I’ve had them paged in a restaurant & pointed out that it was dangerously hot for their pet.

    Haven’t had to break a window yet, but I would. Thank you to the NY legislators for proposing this law.

    Cheryl Border July 8, 2015 7:59 am Reply
  • This law is a no-brainer, until we realize as a country we are only as compassionate collectively as we are to the least of God’s creatures nothing will change. It’s sad that a law like this is even necessary when using common sense to save a life. If we would do it for a child, we should do it for another of God’s creation. All life deserves respect and value.

    Susie Newman Wood July 8, 2015 8:03 am Reply
  • This is a GREAT proposed bill for every state!!!!!!!!!!!! I truly believe this would prevent so many dogs from suffering and possibly found dead across our nation. PLEASE continue to support this bill and send it to all animal lovers so we can stand together to save our companion animals. WE ARE SO OFTEN THE ONLY VOICE THEY HAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Becky Britt July 8, 2015 8:04 am Reply
  • All states should adopt this law. However, I feel that it would not come to fruition in Illinois, because our legislators are NOT very pro-animal rights. Shame on them!!

    A big thank you to the 2 New York legislators who took the time and trouble to submit such a bill. Hopefully it will pass. A person who will leave an animal in a car, would also leave a baby – people should think about that..

    C. Daccardo July 8, 2015 8:06 am Reply
  • THANK YOU to some lawmakers and legislators who FINALLY have the guts and integrity to stand up for animals! Now, if they could just get the rest of the country to grow “a set” and pass laws to protect pets and those who rescue them in each and every state. Next step….the world!!!

    Carly Chichester July 8, 2015 8:17 am Reply
  • What a wonderful law. Really, th ere are. politician’s that have hearts I am stunned but, pleased.

    skylar July 8, 2015 9:29 am Reply
  • Good for New York. Every state needs to follow this and pass a similar law. I have broken a window to get a tiny puppy out of a back seat…it was 90 degrees outside and the dog was suffering horribly. I
    followed all the correct steps…overhead page the store, call 911, but when they told me that they would
    have to contact AC and they were at least 20 minutes away, I knew the dog didn’t have that much time.
    So the window got broken, we waited for AC to come and they took over the situation. We left and I don’t have a clue how long AC waited for the owners to come out. The dog most certainly would have been dead by then. We still have children being left in hot cars, so it isn’t surprising that this happens to animals. A mystery to me. Everyone getting into a hot car knows how bad it is. How quickly they forget.

    Patricia Mendiola July 8, 2015 9:36 am Reply
  • From my perspective, I would break the window and face the criminal charges. The criminals are the people who left the dog in the car.

    Kathy July 8, 2015 9:59 am Reply
  • it’s a great idea. I wish you had given a link to support the legislation.

    diane July 8, 2015 10:33 am Reply
  • It is my understanding that this is already the law in Nevada, or maybe just Las Vegas. Anyone know for sure?

    June July 8, 2015 10:33 am Reply
  • Broke windows, opened locked cars, called cops – did it all. And I’d do it again and again, no matter what the consequences are. And, believe it or not, I had to break into a car to get a kitten out. Idiots leave them in cars, too. I always travel with a jug of water and bowls as you never know when you’ll need them. People who leave animals in cars should have the same thing done to them. It’s the only way to get the point across. And then you throw them in prison for a long time. Make it stick!!!

    ALSO: click the Buffalo News link in the first paragraph to get the story on this legislature.

    KatWrangler July 8, 2015 10:48 am Reply
  • We live in Arizona where cars can heat up rapidly in the summer! We once saw 3 cats who were locked in a car with the windows almost totally shut frantically meowing. We called the local police who had a gadgit to the a window open where they could pop the lock open. They took the cats and left a message where they had been taken. Recently, we have had to young babies left in cars with the windows up! Those parents will now get to explain to a judge exactly why before they get the baby back and will pay a large fine (as they should!)

    AZJune July 8, 2015 10:50 am Reply
    • I was once a professional proofreader for the local courts and I should have reread the above reply !
      ARGH!

      AZJune July 8, 2015 10:54 am Reply
  • Hooray, Hooray. I have found several dogs in cars with the windows up or slightly cracked and the poor pups were panting. I have called the police after trying to find the owners to no avail. The police, however, in some areas of my country, are so slow to respond. I would not know how to break a window and would have if I had known, da__ the consequences to me. I think I will research how to break a window, if necessary, because it is heating up here. I also hope the legislators of all the states see and follow New Yorks bravery.

    marleen davis July 8, 2015 12:36 pm Reply
  • YEA…..THANK YOU FOR APPROVING THAT!!!!!!

    BRENDA LAI July 8, 2015 2:26 pm Reply
  • It’s about time!!

    Amy Glogowski July 8, 2015 2:42 pm Reply
  • We don’t need laws to do what’s right. We need laws to punish those that already did wrong. Too bad laws are on,y for commoners. And I would sue u if u smashed my car window while I had my dog with the a/c on…people don’t always have a safe place to leave their animals!!!

    V July 8, 2015 5:04 pm Reply
  • that bill is exactly what we need…i can’t tell you the number of dogs locked in cars that i have seen…i wait outside watching for the person to come out and then i tell them….most get mad and tell me to mind my own business….i usually call animal control but they don’t always do anything…

    Nora July 8, 2015 6:09 pm Reply
  • Every state should pass this bill, we need to save our pets from evil people that don’t care.

    sandy July 8, 2015 8:50 pm Reply
  • Ignorance is the biggest cancer in any society. Be compassionate and mindful to ALL living things.
    Whatever it takes to save an animal from suffering in a hot car. The consequences have no bearing.

    teri kelly July 8, 2015 9:15 pm Reply
  • I hope Texas gets this law too. Great too hear.

    wayne freitag July 8, 2015 9:25 pm Reply
  • To the one in Florida was afraid to live the dogs in the house in case of fire it is not different inside the car at 120 Pay to some body to care for the dogs.

    Marsha July 8, 2015 9:26 pm Reply
  • Yes..agree

    fawn rainy July 9, 2015 7:14 am Reply
  • Be Smart about it. DON”T take your dog if your going to be out of your car for 10 to 15 min. I will break your window. I’ll worry about the jail time later.

    Raymond Bartlett July 26, 2015 3:44 am Reply
  • Yes I agree whole hardley. Bless the people that do that. People should never leave there animals in the cars. People just don”t think it can happen to there animals.

    Jill Epley July 28, 2015 1:18 pm Reply
  • One question and don’t mean no disrespect but why does people have to throw religion into everything . For me i am spiritual ok but you hear me see me throwing that into the story NO ! There are a lot of people who don’t like it when Religion thrown into their face every time a story or comments are made now that is disrespectful. Everyone has their beliefs ok i totally get that but do you have to throw that into our faces . If you are wondering why i said that there are some comments that they threw religion into the mix . And story has nothing to do with religion but it’s in the comments . People have respect for others .

    Merci July 29, 2015 12:40 pm Reply
  • The reason someone threw religion into the mix was to make a point about people. Some people don’t care about their pets, nor do they care about human life. Some people do not take responsibility for their actions. It is the innocents who suffer needlessly.

    Mercy November 15, 2016 7:08 am Reply

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