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