Here at Avallone Law we have some questions on the new law allowing citizens to break into cars to free animal. Here are the facts.
On March 8, 2016 Governor Rick Scott signed into state law House Bill 131, which “creates immunity from civil liability for property damage that may occur when an individual attempts to rescue a minor, elderly or disabled adult, or domestic animal from a motor vehicle.”
In simple terms: If a person sees an animal — most often times a dog — locked inside a car that needs to be rescued, he or she may take steps necessary to free the animal without being held civilly liable for any damage caused to the vehicle.
The Florida law follows Tennessee as the first state to allow persons to break into a hot car to free an animal.
This is great news for animals, animal lovers and activists, but comes with some guidelines. To be protected:
The Good Samaritan must ensure the vehicle is locked and there is no other reasonable way to free the animal or human inside;
The animal or human is unable to get free on his/her/its own;
The rescuer must have “a good faith and reasonable belief” the dog or human is “in imminent danger of suffering harm;”
The Samaritan must call 911 or contact a law enforcement agency before or immediately after entering the vehicle and must use reasonable force in obtaining entry; and
The Good Samaritan must remain with the animal or human in a nearby, safe location until authorities arrive.
Although the law states civil immunity will be granted if the guidelines are met, the person rescuing the animal may be responsible violation of criminal law.
Note that less than half of all states have laws in place against people who leave a dog locked inside a parked car.
Call Avallone Law P.A. today at 386-682-9235 for your free consultation.