Apr 3, 2024

New Florida Law Permits Breaking Into Vehicles to Save People and Pets

pet in hot car

Have you ever seen a helpless dog stuck in a car on a sweltering day? We’re happy to say all dogs in Florida, including Emma and Molly, are now safer.

If you live in Florida, a new law was passed that makes it legal to break into vehicles in order to rescue pets and people in “imminent danger of suffering harm” in order to save them from the stifling Florida heat.

Governor Rick Scott signed the bill (HB 131) into law on March 8 after it unanimously passed both houses of the Florida legislature.

The new law will grant immunity from civil and criminal liability for good Samaritans who break into cars to save people and pets. However, the bill outlined very strict guidelines to qualify for immunity.

The first thing a person must do is determine if the vehicle is locked, and make sure there is no way for the person or pet to get out of the vehicle without help.

Secondly, a person must contact a law enforcement agency before or immediately after entering the vehicle.

Finally, a person must use no more force than necessary to enter the vehicle, and stay with the person or pet in a safe place near the car until first responders arrive.

The new law was prompted by an increase in the number of pets and people who have died as a result of being left in overheated cars.

With the warmer months approaching, the Florida legislature felt pressured to do more to prevent senseless injuries and fatalities that occur when pets and people are locked in overheated cars.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, the temperature inside your vehicle can rise up to 20°F in just 10 minutes, and only increases as time goes by.

You might say, “I’ll just crack the window.”

Unfortunately, that is not a solution. Studies exploring how quickly cars heat up found that cracking the window did little to change the temperature inside the car.

Ideally, no one should bring their pets along on a hot day if they know they’ll need to leave them in the car. Thankfully, if anyone does, now a passerby can intervene without worry of legal repercussions.