New Indiana law protects good Samaritans who rescue pets from hot cars

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A new law in Indiana will provide protections to anyone who rescues a pet trapped in a hot car. But good Samaritans may have to pay a hefty fee for their assistance.

Governor Holcomb signed House Enrolled Act 1085 into law on Monday. This means that anyone who breaks into a hot car to rescue a domestic animal will have criminal immunity starting on July 1.

However, several conditions must first be met.

The good Samaritans must reasonably believe the animal is in imminent danger; they are required to notify law enforcement before breaking into the car; they can only use a reasonable amount of force to remove the animal; and they must stay with the animal at the scene until police arrive.

One thing rescuers aren’t immune to is civil liability for vehicle damage. The law requires the rescuer to pay half of the cost to repair the car unless the vehicle owner agrees to pay for it all.

According to the director of Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control, there were 269 calls received for dogs being left in vehicles from May 1 through Sept. 30, 2016. The average interior temperature of these vehicles was between 90 and 130 degrees, and an officer’s average response time ranged from five to 20 minutes.