The Penalty

When our body’s temperature increases, our hear rate does too. If we start to overheat, our heart starts to race, and our body starts to dehydrate. Dogs work the same way.

Many states now have safety laws against leaving children and pets unattended in a vehicle. Depending on the state and circumstances, the guilty can be issued a traffic ticket and fined, or, in extreme cases, charged with manslaughter and sentenced to a lengthy jail term. In Florida, Orange County Code Sec 5-43 states it is against the law to leave a dog, cat, or other animal unattended in a parked vehicle with inadequate or no ventilation. The owner or keeper can face a civil fine for neglect of $257.00 in addition to criminal charges filed by law enforcement.

Leaving dogs in cars, especially during the scorching-hot South Florida summers, is dangerous. This is why Florida Governor Rick Scott passed a bill which makes it legal to break into locked vehicles to rescue pets or individuals that are believed to be in danger of suffocation or other harm.

The bill has been effect since March of this year, and was issued in response to the growing problem of children and pets are left in overheating cars. March 2015 to March 2016 was ranked as the hottest period on record for that time frame, so the risks of internal damage in a dog or cat are even higher.

Pet Plan Car Infographic

What the Bill Says

Individuals may be absolved from being sued for breaking into locked vehicles as long as they have done the following:

  • Checked to make sure the vehicle is actually locked.
  • Have a reasonable belief, based upon the known circumstance, that entering into the vehicle is necessary because the vulnerable person or domestic animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm.
  • Called 911 or law enforcement either before or immediately after breaking into the vehicle.
  • Use only the necessary amount of force to break in.
  • Remain with the person, child or animal until first-responders arrive on the scene.

Is It Really Necessary?

The answer is yes. The issue is a bigger problem than most people understand.

In 2014, there were 32 reports of children dying in hot car deaths, according to the organization Kids and Cars, and according to PETA, animals can sustain brain damage or die of heatstroke in just 15 minutes of being trapped in a car.

There are videos all over the internet showing people concerned about children or elderly persons being left in hot cars, as well as pets, such as cats and dogs.

The TV show “What Would You Do?” even did a social experiment to see how people who react if they saw such a thing happen right in front of them. Many stepped in to help the victims, both human and animal.

It is important to protect everyone. If you see someone or an animal that looks like they are in danger, do something about it.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall accident, auto accident, or at work, call us at 1-800-INJURED, so we can get you a personal injury attorney near you. If your pet was injured in an accident, we can help, too. Attorneys in our network have over 35 years of experience and are located all over Florida. Let us help you out, so you aren’t recovering on your own and have a helping hand during stressful times.