Attorney Ben Schwartz answers a viewer question about breaking a car window to rescue a dog.
Hi, I’m attorney Ben Schwartz.
Today we’re going to answer a question from Arlene in Dover, Delaware. If there’s a dog locked in a car in the summer, can I break the windows to rescue the dog?
That is an interesting question and I have had several discussions with people who say, “Look, if I see a dog and it’s locked in the car and the windows are up in summer, I’m breaking the stinking windows and I don’t care what happens. I’ll rescue the dog because the dog’s life and health are at stake.” I’ve thought about this and I actually did a little research. Delaware law was amended in 2015 by Senate Bill 22. If you Google Delaware Code Title 11, section 1325, you’ll see that subsection B6 was added to make it illegal, to make it a crime, to lock your dog in a car in summer and it also says that any First responder has the right to break the windows to rescue a dog.
My advice or thought on this matter is, it is not legal for a member of the general public who happens upon a dog in a parked car, in a locked car, it is not legal for that member of the general public to break the windows and rescue the dog, but if you’re a First responder, it is legal. If you see this situation, you know, you go to the supermarket and parked in front of the supermarket there’s a car, the windows are up, there’s a dog in the back of the car and the dog is obviously suffering, my advice would be to call 911. Get on your cell phone, call 911, go into the supermarket, call 911 and report the owner of that dog for abuse of the animal and let them get arrested. Let a First responder come out and open up the car and rescue a dog. If you do it, you risk being arrested yourself for damaging someone’s property. You risk being sued by the owner of the car for damaging their property and for the repair bills, so there’s no reason for you to take a risk. All you have to do is call 911 to report the crime and let the authorities handle it.
Thanks for watching! It’s a very good and insightful question. It really raises the question of what would you do? What I’m giving you is an answer for if this happens in Delaware. Here’s what Delaware law says. If you’re outside of Delaware, the answer might be something different. What would you do if you’re outside of Delaware and this happens? I always get follow-up emails every time I do a video and I get emails from people all over the United States. I’d be interested to know if you’re in a state other than Delaware, what does your state law say and what would you do in this situation? Send me an e-mail below or message us on our Facebook Page.
Thanks again for watching!