Law will pro­tect those who break into hot car to save life

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Erin Dou­glas

It will soon be le­gal to break into a car — but only to save the life of a child, cat or dog.

The state law that takes ef­fect Aug. 9, giv­ing good Samaritans im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion, doesn’t mean you can just go around break­ing windows.

To be ex­cused from crim­i­nal mis­chief, tres­pass­ing or tam­per­ing charges, some­one try­ing to save an an­i­mal or child must first have rea­son­able be­lief that the at-risk pet or per­son is in im­mi­nent dan­ger of death or suf­fer­ing se­ri­ous in­jury. Then, they must make ev­ery rea­son­able ef­fort to con­tact the owner and law en­force­ment be­fore break­ing in. The law doesn’t spec­ify whether the risk to the pet or per­son comes from heat or cold.

“It was writ­ten to make sure there were com­mon­sense steps,” said Rep. Lori Saine, R-Da­cono, an au­thor of the bill. “It was also to pro­tect prop­erty own­ers so that peo­ple aren’t just break­ing in be­cause they’re an­gry.”

Ci­ti­zen in­ter­ven­tion with­out fol­low­ing proper pro­to­col can weaken the abil­ity to file charges be­cause in­ves­ti­ga­tors can no longer take the in­te­rior tem­per­a­ture of the car, Den­ver An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion field ser­vices man­ager Lt. James San­born said.

“The best thing you can do is call an­i­mal pro­tec­tion or call 911,” San­born said. “When we get (calls) we try to re­spond as soon as we can. You also have the po­lice and the fire de­part­ment if the dog is in that kind of dis­tress. Their re­sponse time is pretty quick – within two or three min­utes.”

With Colorado’s high tem­per­a­tures in the past week and fore­cast for the rest of the week, chil­dren and pets left unat­tended in ve­hi­cles with­out proper ven­ti­la­tion could be at risk of death.

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