With warmer weather on the horizon, this law comes at the right time, while paving the way for other states to follow suit.

Every summer, we hear sad stories of dogs being left in sweltering cars while their owners run errands, enjoy a leisurely lunch or go on a shopping spree. And if you tried to break the car’s window to save the poor animal, you would be in danger of being charged with a crime. But Florida is making waves by passing a law that allows you to physically intervene and break into a vehicle when you see a pet or human in distress.

We have Governor Rick Scott to thank for this new bill. He signed House Bill 131 into law, and now Floridians are allowed to break into locked automobiles to rescue animals or vulnerable people who are “in imminent danger of suffering harm.”

Before you get all smashy, smashy, there are guidelines you must follow before breaking a car’s window:

  1. Check to see that the vehicle is locked. Yes, it seems like common sense, but when you see a dog in danger, logic tends to go out the window (no pun intended).
  2. Call 911 or law enforcement before entering the vehicle, or immediately after rescuing the child or pet. In this situation, it’s best to get the police on your side than arriving on the scene to a potential “break and enter” situation.
  3. Only use as much force as needed to break into the vehicle (yes, you’re angry, but busting the headlights is only going to get you into trouble).
  4. Remain with the person or animal until first-responders arrive.