Can You Legally Break a Window to Save a Dog in a Hot Car in Iowa?
It's been an overall very hot Iowa summer so far. In June, we were 4.4 degrees higher than an average month, according to Iowa's Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. After a more mild start to July, it looks like temps will again get cooking once again as we head down the month's home stretch.
One of the most heat-related egregious crimes you may witness is seeing a dog locked up in a hot car. We all the dangers of doing this, yet, it still happens. You may be wondering then, if you see this happen, here in Iowa, can you legally break a strangers car window to rescue the pup? Let's dig in and find out.
In some states, it's perfectly legal
Before we get to Iowa's law or perhaps lack thereof, let's start with states where it's legal, and hence, one can smash a window to save a pooch if need be. According to the pup-loving website Doginington Post, those 11 states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin. While Wisconsin is close by, Iowa is not on this list. So, where does that leave you if you see a dog in a hot car? Do you grab your cell and call 911, or grab a blunt object and swing into rescue mode? Here's what you should do...
It's best you call the police to come to rescue the dog
I reached out the Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson who's been sheriff since 2009, and has seen about everything during his time in the position. His advice, don't try to be a hero.
Technically, a dog is property. A citizen wouldn’t have the right to damage a vehicle in defense of property, but an officer could. Best to call 911.
So there you go. Thompson leaves some room for interpretation when he says 'best to call 911', but it doesn't sound like the law would be on your side should the car, and dog owner decide to press charges for property damage. Then again, what dog-loving judge would make you pay a fine if you flash puppy dog eyes in court? Aww.
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