In California, it is legal to break into a stranger’s car in order to save a dog that is trapped and suffering, but it is still illegal to do so to save a child. Last year, California implemented a law that protects the individual from civil damages if they save a dog. However, California has yet to figure out and implement laws that would protect the individual if they did this to save a child.
This does not mean that a person can break into a car to save a dog anytime they want. It is only forgiving under certain conditions, and the individual is only protected if they comply with certain rules.
On any given day, the temperature inside a vehicle is higher than the temperature outside. Now, think about conditions if the outside temperature was 85 degrees on a summer day. If a dog is locked inside the vehicle, then a person can consider breaking in to save the dog if it is suffering. The person has to be sure that there is no other way to get the dog out and the owner is nowhere to be seen. In other words, this Good Samaritan has to be sure that they have exhausted all other methods to save the dog.
If they break into the car to save the dog, they will need to alert the cops of the incident and stay at the scene until the cops arrive so they can provide their statement. If the good samaritan does all of this, they will be protected from charges. If they neglect even one thing, especially staying after breaking into the vehicle, they may be charged.
If you are the owner and have a dog or a young child with you on a hot day, and you need to park your car to run a quick errand, it is best to bring your child with you. If the store is pet-friendly, bring the pup, or at least leash him or her outside in the shade. It is illegal to leave a child who is under the age of 7 unattended in a vehicle unless they are being supervised by another who is at least 12 years old.