Dogs Inside Hot Cars: Legal Options

Under California Penal Code 597.7, citizens are legally allowed to rescue an animal. But, there are some guidelines you should follow.

Posted: Jun 25, 2018 7:40 AM
Updated: Jun 25, 2018 7:41 AM

Chico, Calif. – With the triple-digit heat the North State region has been experiencing, Action News now if offering another reminder of the dangers of leaving people or animals inside a hot car.

Chico Animal Control officer report that over the three day weekend of June 22 – 25th, 2018, crews responded to three calls for service of a dog left in a hot car.

The question many have is what can an individual do; or what should they do, if you spot a car with a heat-distressed animal inside?

Action News Now’s Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough recently reviewed how Chico Police and Animal Control Officers routinely keep an extra eye out for animals left inside cars.

Under California Penal Code 597.7, citizens are legally allowed to rescue an animal. But, there are some guidelines you should follow.

Chico Animal Shelter Manager Tracy Mohr explains that if and only if it is going to be an extended period of time before help arrives and the animal in question truly needs to be pulled out and is in distress, can a citizen remove an animal from a vehicle.

Animal Control Officer Cheryl Howard is passionate about saving animals. So much so, that last summer, to educate the public, she baked cookies inside a car to demonstrate the intensity of heat inside a car.

When it comes to rescuing animals, she advises the public do the following: She says first call 9-1-1. Animals trapped inside a car are considered priority calls. She says be sure to tell dispatch the make and model of the car, the license plate number and the exact location of where the car is.

She says it is advised to check to see if the vehicle is unlocked. If so, that may be a quick fix for getting the animal some relief.

Stay with the vehicle and the animal until help arrives. Howard concedes, that while this action may go against your initial instinct to act, and act fast, Howard says wait for an officer to arrive.

She explains that once a dog is removed from a hot vehicle, she is no longer able to write a ‘hot dog in car’ ticket, because she did not actually see the animal suffering.

For those who wonder if it is legal to break a car window in order to free an animal, Animal Control officers say technically; yes. However if you do so, you are putting yourself at risk of possibly having the animal attack you or an angry owner confront you.

Animal Control officers say always keep an eye out for dangerous heat situations and animals in distress and immediately call for help.

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