Breaking Windows Without Breaking the Law

Get out your bats or tire iron, and get ready to break some car windows. Okay, maybe that’s a little overzealous, but a new Oregon law can keep you in the clear if drastic measures are needed to rescue a child or domestic animal from a motor vehicle. 

House Bill 2732 was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown in June, and took effect immediately. The new law clears people who enter a motor vehicle by force from criminal or civil liability if they are saving an unattended child or animal in imminent danger. 

With temperatures in Oregon reaching their peak, this law couldn’t have come at a better time. 

According to a petition on Care2, written by the ASPCA, “Every year, thousands of animals succumb to heatstroke and suffocation because they’ve been left in an unattended vehicle.”

Before you start a “smash and grab” when you see a child or pooch in need, remember, there are still a few key rules you must follow:

1) Determine that the vehicle is locked. Well, that seems obvious, but must be stated. 

2) Have reasonable belief the child or animal is in imminent danger or is suffering harm. 

3) Notify law enforcement before, or as soon as is reasonable. 

4) Use no more force than necessary. So, don’t get carried away or keep right on smashing once you’ve gained access. 

5) Stick around with the child or pet until law enforcement, emergency services, or the owner of the motor vehicle arrives. 

No matter how cute the pooch is, you can’t take off with it. That is still a crime. This law also doesn’t provide protection for gross negligence or for reckless, wanton, or intentional misconduct.

Recognizing a child in danger in a locked, hot car is a no brainer for most of us, but is it so easy to tell when we pass a car with a dog locked inside? According to K9 Rescue Me, a nonprofit based in Canada, the temperatures in a car can reach over 100 degrees in just 10 minutes, even if the outside temperature is only 75 degrees. Signs that a pet is in the danger zone include rapid panting, vomiting, or seeming weak, dizzy, sluggish and unresponsive, or disorientated.

So, with the law on your side, good intentions in your heart, and the list of common sense requirements stated above in your pocket, go forth and save!

By Maghen Bridges