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In case of emergency, break glass

Law grants immunity for freeing animals, humans from hot vehicles, with certain conditions

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A new law granting immunity to citizens who break a vehicle’s window to rescue at-risk animals and humans went into effect on Aug. 9.

“It’s already exceeded my expectations,” said state Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, who introduced House Bill 1179.

Saine said she was prompted by calls and emails from constituents to write the bill, and it immediately received bipartisan support. She added that media coverage has already reduced reports of animals in hot cars to law enforcement around the state, likely because the attention stopped some pet owners from leaving animals in their vehicles in the first place.

But the Parker Police Department is warning citizens to consider some important criteria included in the law before coming to the rescue.

A recent case occurred in which a Parker resident broke a car window to free an animal, but failed to follow the law’s protocols. The individual was only spared a count of criminal mischief because the car’s owner chose not to press charges.

Such cases were a concern as the bill was debated, Saine said, but guidelines within the bill were added to prevent just those kinds of incidents.

“We wanted to create a balance for property owners as well as good Samaritans,” she said.

One such provision is that citizens call 9-1-1 before taking a rock, or the law, into their own hands.

Though it isn’t written into the law, another idea Saine suggests is for would-be rescuers to record the circumstances of the situation with video.

Parker Police Department Public Information Officer Josh Hans said via email that calls about animals in hot cars are fairly common, but staff members have yet to advise anyone to break a window.

“The most important step is to call 9-1-1,” Hans said. “Our communication technicians will be able to get an officer headed to the scene ASAP and will know what you should do to ensure everyone is safe.”

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