On Monday, a six-month-old Pit Bull died after being locked in a car in Phoenix on a 110 degree day.
After the story was reported to the public, concerned readers started discussing if it would be acceptable or legal to break a car window in order to save a trapped dog on a hot day.
Since the death of the dog took place in Arizona, Phoenix defense attorney Russ Richelsoph tried to provide some answers to that question. Even if you don’t live in Arizona, his answers are likely good guidelines to follow in your area as well.
"We have something called the necessity defense," said Richelsoph. "[Police] are going to weigh the value of the window versus the benefit of saving that dog's life."
The necessity law states that if a reasonable person would agree that breaking the window was the best way to save the dog, then that action generally will not be punished. AZ Family reached out to the Phoenix Police Department for comment on this approach, and they reportedly “tentatively agree.”
Richelsoph said if you think it’s necessary to break into a car to a free a dog, you should give a local law enforcement agency a heads up first.
"You should really call the police or call the fire department before you do it,” he said.
Here are a few other factors, as reported by AZ Family, that you should consider before making a decision:
- How much distress is the dog experiencing?
- Is there time to call police and let them handle the situation?
- Can the owner be found quickly to unlock the car?
- Is it reasonable to believe the dog will die if you don’t break the window?