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New law offers protections for people attempting to rescue animals from hot cars

INDIANAPOLIS – As a new Indiana animal rescue law goes into effect, firefighters are offering advice that could save animals, and help rescuers avoid injury.

Starting July 1, people can avoid criminal charges if they break a car window to rescue a hot animal.

“It’s good for (someone) who wants to take the risk and wants to do that,” Columbus resident Steve Brutus said of the new law. “However, I would go to the authorities and let them handle it.”

Here’s how the law works. If you spot an animal that appears to be in imminent danger inside a car, you must first check to see if the doors are locked. If they are, then call 911. After breaking the window, you must wait until the officer arrives.

It’s a call animal control officers across the state get a lot. Last year, both Indianapolis and Fort Wayne received 250 calls a piece.

To rescue safely, here’s what firefighters say you need to know. First, don’t use your body.

“A rock could work,” Noblesville Fire Battalion Chief Adam Biddle said. “Anything heavy and sharp would work.”

When you strike, aim is important. “You wouldn’t want to hit it (in the middle of the window) because you’re not going to get the same force that you would here and in the corner,” Biddle said.

Also, don’t go for the front or back windows, and get away from the animal, “because of the risk of the glass shattering and going onto the pet,” Biddle said. “You want to limit that risk by going on the opposite side.”

A new law, and advice that could save pets lives, and help those trying to do it.

“At this point I’d probably think twice,” Karla McCormick said. “If I knew there wasn’t any repercussions I would go for it and save the animal.”

The protections don’t extend to those who try to remove the animal once the glass is broken. If someone does that, and the animal attacks, then its owner is not responsible for injuries.

As for fixing the window, the rescuer is on the hook for half the cost.

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