Republican Governor Rick Scott has signed House Bill 131 into law. This law will allow people to break into locked vehicles to rescue animals or people who are “in imminent danger of suffering harm.”
In Florida, children and pets have regularly suffered by being left in overheated cars. Many have died.
Rightfully so, there are guidelines for the law to apply.
- You must check that the vehicle is locked.
- After doing so, call 911 or law enforcement before entering the vehicle or immediately after rescuing the child or pet.
- Use no more force than is necessary to break in — and remain with the person or animal until first-responders arrive.
All of these guidelines seem very reasonable to me.
Well done to the State of Florida!
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand
Last week, a Georgia man named Michael Hammons spotted a Yorkie-type dog inside a hot car parked at a Athens, Georgia shopping mall. He broke the window to rescue the dog.
When the dog’s owner returned, she was angry that he had damaged her vehicle and insisted that police charge him. His and the dog’s story have gone viral in what I consider a welcome debate about animal welfare and the rights of individuals who step in to intervene.
It seems that Georgia isn’t one of the 16 US states that prohibits leaving animals in cars in unsafe conditions. Advocates are now using this latest situation as evidence as to why the law needs changing.
Last year, I saw a couple leave their dog parked in the full sun at a local shopping mall with a large breed Lab cross in the back seat. I phoned the police on 111 (New Zealand’s version of 911) and then waited by the car until they arrived. I monitored the dog closely to see if he was showing signs of heat stress.
The police, followed by the SPCA, responded to my call quite quickly and the policeman took my details should I be needed as a witness. And then he encouraged me to leave the scene since they would take care of the situation and wait for the people to come back to speak with them.
Have you ever helped rescue a dog from a hot car? How were you treated?
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand