New Indiana law to protect those who rescue pets from hot cars

VINCENNES, Ind. — A new Indiana law is aimed at protecting people who rescue a pet trapped in a hot car.

The law, set to take effect July 1, says a person who forcibly enters a vehicle to remove an animal will only be responsible for half the cost of damages to the vehicle, the Vincennes Sun-Commercial reported. The person rescuing a pet will also be immune from civil or criminal liability from other property damage caused by the forcible entry of the vehicle if there is a reasonable belief that the animal is in imminent danger or suffering serious bodily farm.

It’s never a good idea to leave an animal in a hot car, said Vincennes Animal Shelter director Laura Arial.

“It can get 40 degrees hotter in the car than outside pretty darn quick,” Arial said. “And with our typical Vincennes summer, we can have 82-degree days with 80-percent humidity, so it’s just absolutely unbearable in vehicles.”

Dogs don’t sweat so they can’t cool down fast enough to regulate their temperature properly, Arial said. Ariel estimates that the shelter receives three calls every summer about dogs left in hot cars.

Law enforcement must also be contacted before breaking into the car. Good Samaritans must then stay with the animal until law enforcement or emergency responders arrive.

“If someone sees a dog in a car on a hot day and it’s panting, they’d call the police right away,” Arial said. “That’s definitely worthy of a 911 call. And the police will call us, we’ll be out in a jiffy and start taking care of things.