This previous week, i came across several memes on Facebook around what you’re supposed to carry out in California if you encounter a dog or other animal locked inside a car with the windows up. The concern, of course, is the the inner of the auto will overheat on a summer day and the animal will die. Being the legal research study nerd that ns am, i took that upon myself come look up the relevant and also bore — er, ns mean, re-publishing — that legislation with every one of you.

You are watching: Breaking car window to save dog

It’s likewise an chance for me come share a lot of the dog photos I’ve collected over the years.

Beebee (left); Snooks (right)

Anyway, there space two inquiries I’ll answer:

What California law prohibits leaving a dog or other animal in a warm car?What California laws permit a bystander that sees a dog locked in a hot vehicle to rest the window of that car to rescue the dog or animal?

#1: What legislation prohibits leave a dog in a warm car?The pertinent California law below is section 597.7 of California’s Penal Code. Ar 597.7 has a many subsections come it therefore I would encourage friend to read the actual text of the statute if you have a situation that entails an animal having been left in a hot vehicle. As I’ve pointed out before, my write-ups are at some point just mine paraphrasing of the appropriate law. I’ve consisted of links in this post and also in every my other posts to the appropriate code part in California should you want to perform your very own research.

Anyway, the subsection the addresses the leaving of pets in hot cars is section 597.7(a), which says:

 “A person shall not leave or confine an animal in any unattended motor vehicle under conditions that endanger the wellness or well-being that an animal due to heat, cold, lack of sufficient ventilation, or absence of food or water, or other situations that might reasonably be supposed to cause suffering, disability, or fatality to the animal.”

I’ve bolded and underlined a pair of components in ar 597.7(a) that ns feel space important. This is not to say the the other parts the I have not bolded and underlined space unimportant.

This legislation is not specific to dogs. Most of the time, though, the pet is a dog left in a car, but it could be any type of animal.The automobile or automobile in question has to be unattended.The conditions in which the pet is left need to endanger their wellness or well-being.The risk posed through the problems is because of circumstances that can (a) sensibly be expected to, (b) reason suffering, disability, or fatality to the animal. Instances of such conditions include, yet are not restricted to, heat, cold, lack of sufficient ventilation, and also lack that food or water.

Because this is the Penal Code, we’re talking around criminal liability. The penalties because that violating ar 597.7(a) are described in section 597.7(c):

“Unless the pet suffers an excellent bodily injury, a very first conviction because that violation that this section is punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundreds dollars ($100) every animal. If the pet suffers good bodily injury, a violation the this ar is punishable by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), imprisonment in a county jail no exceeding six months, or through both a fine and imprisonment. Any type of subsequent violation that this section, nevertheless of injury come the animal, is likewise punishable through a fine not exceeding 5 hundred dollars ($500), imprisonment in a ar jail not exceeding six months, or through both a fine and imprisonment.”

The penalty are, unfortunately, just a good or a misdemeanor conviction, depending upon whether the animal in inquiry suffers great bodily injury or not. Subsequent convictions for violating ar 597.7(a) are, unfortunately, still just misdemeanors.



#2: What laws enable a bystander who sees a dog locked in a hot auto to break the home window of that vehicle to rescue the dog or animal?This is probably what many readers are interested in. Normally, self-help or “taking the law into your own hands” is not something the the law permits or encourages. In various other words, acquisition the law into your very own hands have the right to often cause you far-reaching legal trouble.

Animals left in warm vehicles, however, is one exception. If friend fulfill specific criteria, you have the right to “take the law right into your very own hands” and also rescue any animals you encounter. Of course, i don’t recommend you take the law right into your own hands due to the fact that it’s not a insurance the protections ns describe below will apply. If you execute take the law into your very own hands and, for example, break a car home window to acquire an pet out, i think from the outset the you’ll need to pay because that said window until it’s determined otherwise.

Anyway, the said, the relevant legislations in the California Penal password relating come “bystander rescue” are in section 597.7(b)(1) and (2). 597.7(b)(1) says:

“(1) This ar does not avoid a person from taking reasonable steps that space necessary to remove an animal from a motor automobile if the person holds a reasonable belief that the animal’s security is in immediate danger native heat, cold, absence of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water, or various other circumstances that can reasonably be intended to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.”

Again, I’ve bolded and also underlined the components I think are important here, namely the the steps the bystander takes have to be (1) reasonable, and also (2) necessary to remove the pet from the vehicle. Additionally, the bystander must have actually a reasonable belief that the animal’s security is in prompt danger that can reasonable be supposed to reason suffering disability, or death.

I’m no going to go over ar 597.7(d). That section lays out unique rules and also requirements that emergency personnel (e.g. Police officers, firefighters, animal control officers, etc.) who eliminate an animal from a car have to follow. That’s going to apply to a decimal of situations. If your case is among them, i encourage girlfriend to review the message of ar 597.7(d).

Criminal Liability The actions that the bystander should take very first before attempting rescue room recited in section 597.7(b)(2):

“(2) A person who clears an pet from a vehicle in accordance with paragraph (1) is not criminally liable because that actions taken reasonably and in good faith if the human does all of the following:

(A) Determines the auto is locked or over there is otherwise no reasonable manner for the animal to be gotten rid of from the vehicle.

(B) Has a great faith id that forcible entry into the auto is necessary since the animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm if it is not automatically removed native the vehicle, and, based top top the circumstances recognized to the human at the time, the id is a reasonable one.

(C) Has contacted a local legislation enforcement agency, the fire department, animal control, or the “911” emergency organization prior come forcibly entering the vehicle.

(D) Remains through the animal in a for sure location, out of the facets but fairly close to the vehicle, till a peace officer, humane officer, animal control officer, or an additional emergency responder arrives.

(E) Used no an ext force to get in the vehicle and remove the pet from the car than was important under the circumstances.

(F) instantly turns the animal over to a representative from law enforcement, pet control, or an additional emergency responder who responds to the scene.”


Daisy. Rescued through Rocket Dog Rescue (

The six steps, therefore, room in sections 597.7(b)(2)(A) to 597.7(b)(2)(F). I would certainly paraphrase them as:

Ascertain whether over there is a quick and easy way to eliminate the pet (e.g. Examine to watch if the car is locked or not)Assess the situation and come to the an excellent faith conclusion that forcible entry (e.g. Break the window) is important to prevent an brewing harmContact the police or fire department for the area. Most of the time, this just method calling 911.Once you’ve extracted the animal, remain with the pet close come the car until aid arrivesUse just the minimal force needed to effect the rescueTurn the animal over come the authorities once they arrive.

If a bystander satisfies every one of these steps, they space not criminally liable for, for instance, breaking the vehicle’s home window to extract the animal. Unfortunately, whether these measures were undoubtedly satisfied eventually is not as much as the bystander. For example, lock might thought they supplied the minimal pressure necessary, however a police officer, prosecutor, or court of law may disagree. If that happens, climate the bystander can fact criminal liability after all.

Civil LiabilityI’ve just talked about the California Penal password so far. Together you can hopefully guess, the Penal Code just talks about criminal liability. Any action — including breaking a home window to rescue an pet — could result in both criminal liability and civil liability. As quick background, if criminal liability is proven, then the punish is generally incarceration of part type. This would include probation, prison time, or jail time. If polite liability is proven, the penalty for the is typically financial. In various other words, the polite defendant needs to salary the polite plaintiff X dollars in damages. Criminal and also civil liability are independent. It’s absolutely feasible — view OJ Simpson’s murder trial from the 1990s — to no be criminally liable because that something, however still it is in civilly liable because that that exact same thing.

Anyway, the governing legislation for polite liability pertained to taking the law into your very own hands come rescue a trapped animal is in section 43.100 the the California civil Code. That ar says:

“(a) there shall not be any civil liability on the part of, and no reason of activity shall accrue against, a person for property damages or trespass come a motor vehicle, if the damages was caused while the human being was rescuing an animal in accordance through subdivision (b) of ar 597.7 the the Penal Code.

(b) The immunity from civil liability for property damages to a motor auto that is developed by subdivision (a) go not impact a person’s polite liability or immune from civil liability for rendering help to one animal.”


Me (left); Monkey (right). Rescued by animal Rescue Relay (

What ar 43.100(a) basically claims is the if the bystander adheres to the six procedures recited ns mentioned over (i.e. Sections 597.7(b)(2)(A) come 597.7(b)(2)(F)), then the bystander has no polite liability for property damages related come the rescue. For example, if the bystander had to break a window on a vehicle to get the pet out, then the bystander doesn’t have to pay to change that window, even if the bystander is sued by the auto owner.

However, 43.100(a) has actually a large exception, i beg your pardon I’ve bolded and also underlined: It only affects property damage liability because that the engine vehicle. As ar 43.100(b) says, the bystander can face civil liability on various other issues. For example, suppose there is a dog trapped in a car on a warm day v the windows shut. A bystander follows the six steps and also breaks the window of the vehicle. Suppose that the dog is passed the end by that allude and the bystander has to resuscitate the dog somehow. The bystander is successful and the dog survives, yet the bystander breaks numerous of the dog’s ribs during the resuscitation. In theory, the bystander have the right to be civil liable because that the dog’s broken ribs and whatever veterinary bills result. Section 43.100 does not safeguard the bystander in the situation because the dog’s broken ribs are not a residential or commercial property damage concern pertaining come the engine vehicle.

That said, though, it’s entirely possible the bystander might be saved by some various other statute, case, or legit argument. It’s simply that ar 43.100 concerns motor auto property damages liability only.

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Anyway, ns hope all the was helpful and that you enjoyed the dog photos. Together always, what ns wrote below is based on actual California regulation which I have both mentioned and also linked. However, what i wrote below is likewise ultimately my paraphrase or interpretation of what California legislation says. If you space going to rely on what I wrote here, ns would highly recommend the you look up the actual statutes I’ve mentioned. I’ve linked them for the purpose.