Thanks to Rep. David Hawk, TN became the first state to pass a Good Samaritan law allowing you to break windows to get a dog out of a hot car without fear of legal repercussion.
But, despite the concept that smashing up a car owned by someone ignorant enough to leave their dog to cook on a blazing hot day is extremely tempting, there are some basic steps to take.
First, assess if the car is running. If the engine is on and the dog is asleep in the seat, the A/C is likely also on and the dog is not in any distress or danger.
Second, is the door unlocked? If the door is unlocked, just open the door and get the dog out of the car. I know seeing a dog in distress is distressing but keep your head about you. The law does state that reasonable due process includes checking to see if the door is unlocked before damaging the vehicle.
If the engine is off and the doors are locked, you are protected if you break a window to remove a pet. You also need to contact the authorities immediately. No “smash and grabs” – get the dog out of the car and call the police and wait for them. Endangering a dog in a hot car may actually carry a felony animal endangerment/cruelty charge. And potential jail time AND a broken window is better punishment than just a broken window if you leave a real dog to broil in your car.
With summer in full swing, cooking hot dogs is a national pastime. But remember, the only good cooked dog goes on a bun, not a leash.