Summer is right around the corner and we've already seen some record breaking temperatures.  What should you do if you see an animal in a hot car?

Many people (rightfully so) would just break the window to let the pet out and save their life.  But legally, can you do that in New York state?

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, you could get yourself into trouble by doing that.  There are only 8 states that will allow any "Good Samaritan" to break a window to free an animal if it is left in a hot car.  Those states are California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Tennessee.  But read on...

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In 41 states (including New York State), it is illegal to take it upon yourself to break that window.  However, there are things you can do to help the pet.

Call 911 right away.  Always get the authorities involved as soon as possible.  In New York, only public officials such as law enforcement and humane officers can legally break into a car to rescue an animal.

What if you are on vacation and you see it in another state?  Of the 8 states where there are "Good Samaritan" laws in place, in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin, you MUST call law enforcement before you do it in order for it to be legal.  In New Jersey and West Virginia it is illegal to confine a dog in a car, but no one has the authority to break into that car to free it...even law enforcement.  So calling 911 first is your safest bet anyway.

That being said...DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS IN YOUR VEHICLE.  I am not a law enforcement officer and I am not an attorney.  This is NOT legal advice as it would be terrible advice.  I would break that window 10 out of 10 times anyway if I saw an animal in distress because its owner left them in the vehicle.  And I would be happy to explain to them why I did it.