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Should Police Break Into Cars To Save Animals?

Should Police Break Into Cars To Save Animals?

Earlier this week, a small dog in Rhode Island died when it was left inside a car in the sweltering summer heat. Also, a woman in the same town was warned that she was teetering on a crime when she saved a pit bull from possibly the same fate.

Now, the North Carolina House of Representative has passed legislation that gives police, firefighters and other rescue workers the authority to break into cars if they see dogs or other animals in hot weather. It has been sent to the state’s Senate.

If it becomes law, authorities can enter a vehicle “by any reasonable means” when they suspect an animal is at risk for any reason, not just heat. There are local ordinances in North Carolina that already provide this authority, but Rep. Pricey Harrison, the Greensboro Democrat who sponsored the bill, saw the need to make it a statewide law.

On the House floor, Rep. Harrison mentioned this week’s case of the Eyes Ears Nose and Paws nonprofit program manager being charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty after she left a dog in a car with the windows rolled up. Worthy, a golden retriever, died the next day.

Not all states have laws that specifically address leaving animals in a parked car in extreme weather conditions, but most that do allow for authorities to use reasonable force to extract them from a vehicle.

“I think that’s a valuable tool for local animal control agencies to have to deal with animals that are in vehicles and distressed,” said Bob Marotto, the director of the Orange County Department of Animal Services. “Our animal control officers don’t have the explicit power to do that.”

While you’d like to think such careless and cruel behavior is rare, sadly it is not. Mr. Marotto says his department receives about 100 calls during the warm months regarding animals being left in hot vehicles.

North Carolina’s animal cruelty statutes already include language about leaving animals in vehicles, which makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Harrison is optimistic that her bill will pass into law, saying she has heard Senate legislative leaders are showing it support.

Also read:

How to Recognize and Report Animal Cruelty

25 Cute Animals Speaking Out Against Animal Cruelty

Read more: Animal Rights, Cats, Dogs, Pet Health, Pets

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Jason Knapfel is Co-Founder of, a growing resource for all things related to the beloved animals that we share our homes with.


+ add your own
6:34AM PDT on Jun 19, 2014

Yes, they should! And if I see an animal closed in a car when there's hot, I won't wait for police but break into the car myself!!!

8:17PM PST on Mar 4, 2014

Yes, of course they should. It should be a felony for anyone who does this as well. Too many animals and children have died in cars because of irresponsibility by the humans. I don't understand how anyone can leave a pet or child inside a hot or cold car. It just takes a brief time for them to die. I have gone into stores looking for owners. I have stayed with the car, called the police and I have also left notes on the car. If the time was up for the animal or child I also would not hesitate to break into the car. I believe it is a misdemeanor in most states, but it should be a felony especially if the doe/child dies.

4:05PM PDT on Oct 6, 2013

There should be a law throughout the land, in every state, that allows law enforcement to break into vehicles to rescue animals, who otherwise would die.
All rational people would NOT see a problem with this law.

2:33PM PDT on Aug 29, 2013

Of course they should, police, animal control, and anyone who sees an animal in a locked care should be able to rescue them. Even with the windows open, the temperature can climb to over 100 in a very short time. I certainly hope that the idiot woman who left that poor baby to die is prosecuted and punished to the max.....maybe lock her in a car in the summer heat and see how she likes it!!!! Some people just make me sick!

6:13AM PDT on Aug 26, 2013

they def need to be able to break in, darn irresponsible pet owners

5:51AM PDT on Aug 19, 2013

Yes I think they should. If I saw a pet in hot weather with the window closed I would break it myself.

6:43PM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Absolutely yes but not only should they rescue the animal but the owner should be charged as well. Why people take their animals with them when they are going shopping is beyond me, it just makes no sense at all. I know myself that I sometimes go to the store for one thing and end up leaving with a lot more because you tend to get browsing. You have no real sense of time when this happens.

6:08AM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

11:58AM PDT on Aug 8, 2013


7:14AM PDT on Aug 8, 2013


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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