New Colorado law will allow passerby to break a car window to save a dog inside
June 22, 2017
Hot weather at the end of the summer could test a new Colorado law that grants people immunity if they need to break a car window to save a dog.
Pet Kare Clinic veterinarian Dr. Christian Schwarz said temperatures can rise significantly and quickly inside a car, even if the windows are open.
This can be extremely dangerous for dogs.
"When it starts to warm up, leave them at home," Schwarz said. "And if you do bring them, don't leave them in the car."
When a dog experiences heat stroke their organs begin to shut down, and it can be irreversible.
"It's really severe with a pretty cruddy prognosis," Schwarz said.
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Pet Kare sometimes treats a couple dogs each summer for heat stroke, Schwarz said.
Steamboat Springs animal control officer Jennifer Good said dogs in hot cars is a big problem during the warmer months.
"We see residents as well as visitors leaving animals in vehicles," she said.
According to city ordinances, it is a violation to leave a dog or cat in a car if the temperature is above 70 degrees. That is, "unless, in the opinion of the officer, protection from the weather as appropriate, water, and adequate surface upon which to avoid harm to the dog has been provided."
If it is determined there is a danger, animal control has the right to remove the animal.
A police officer helps unlock the car, usually by jimmying the lock.
The animal is then taken to the shelter, and the owner is cited for animal cruelty.
There are a few caveats to the new Colorado law that allows people to break car windows to save a dog.
The law does not go into effect until Aug. 9.
To not be liable, the person must have reasonable belief that the dog might die.
The person also has to make a reasonable attempt to contact the owner and call 911 before breaking in.
In addition to hot cars, Schwarz said that dogs can easily burn their paws on hot pavement or in the metal bed of a pickup.
Matt Stensland is a reporter with Steamboat Today, a sister publication of Sky-Hi News.