Hot Vehicle Good Samaritan Laws : Free That Pup?

Hot Vehicle Good Samaritan Laws

When the topic of state-level animal advocacy arises, the numbers speak for themselves. In 22 states it is illegal to leave an animal in a hot car. Anyone found guilty of doing so can be charged with a misdemeanor, fined, and serve up to six months in jail. Of course, these penalties differ from state to state and depend on the severity of the infraction. This article notes the hot vehicle Good Samaritan Laws in your State.

Say a woman is on a road trip with her pet iguana and leaves him in the car, AC blasting, for a couple of minutes while she runs into the gas station. She doesn’t need to worry about being fined or charged with animal cruelty. She is doing the right thing by being quick and mindful of her little buddy. She’d undoubtedly get brownie points if she bought him a bag of snap peas though.

Free that Pup: Hot Vehicle Good Samaritan Laws

The numbers tell a story of slow-growing awareness. The progress was a bit tortoise-paced at first, but it has been gaining steam since 2014.

17 states currently have laws allowing public officials – police officers, animal control officers, firefighters, etc. – to take necessary action to free an animal in distress locked in a hot vehicle. Usually, this means breaking a window. Of those, five states have “Good Samaritan laws” allowing private citizens to take matters into their own hands. Shout out to Tennessee (July 2014), Wisconsin (November 2015), New York York (May 2015) Florida (July 2016), and Ohio (August 2016)!

5 states have hot vehicle Good Samaritan laws allowing citizens to take matters into their own hands. Share on X

It is important to know the laws in your state. If you find yourself in the position of needing to break a window to save an animal, don’t forget to consult the specific provisions for civilian intervention in your state beforehand. Know what you’re getting into. For folks who don’t live in one of the enlightened 22, please don’t let any of this be a deterrent if you see an animal in real trouble. The law is ultimately here to protect life, and charges can be dropped.

Free That Pup: Hot Vehicle Good Samaritan Laws

The idea here is not to go around smashing windows, of course, unless it is necessary. We want to be vigilant, not overzealous. Imagine you’re moving with your cat across the country and you stop for a bathroom break, leaving the cat in the car with the AC running. You return to find your passenger side window shattered and your cat hissing in the arms of a total stranger. This isn’t what we’re going for. We’re going for social responsibility on all fronts.

Free That Pup: Hot Vehicle Good Samaritan Laws

To avoid the aforementioned awkward situation, a concerned citizen should begin by taking the following steps outlined at

  • Take down the car’s make, model, and license plate number.
  • If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner. Many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in hot cars and will quickly return to their vehicle once they are alerted to the situation.
  • If the owner can’t be found, call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control and wait by the car for them to arrive.
  • In several states good samaritans can legally remove animals from cars under certain circumstances, so be sure to know the laws in your area and follow any steps required.

Thank you, animal lovers, for caring for all the creatures we share the planet with.


Have you had any personal experiences rescuing an animal from a hot car?  I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments and am looking forward to the conversation!

“Hot Vehicle Good Samaritan Laws  Free That Pup?”

Brooke Faulkner is a freelance writer and momma in Portland, OR.

Guest Blogger: Brooke Faulkner is a freelance writer and momma in Portland, OR. She is a lover of words and furry animals.

Another Post by Brooke: Winterizing Your Home for Happy Paws

Image Sources:  Iguana: Rodney Lewis, Flickr;  Dog:




Animal Bliss - A really cool blog about Animals - domestic pets and wildlife too.

Free That Pup: Hot Vehicle Good Samaritan Laws Share on X


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7 thoughts on “Hot Vehicle Good Samaritan Laws : Free That Pup?”

  1. Hey everyone, thanks for reading! This just in … Vermont just passed a law too!!

    Also, I love the idea of posting a big note on the window. Genius.

    • Hey, thanks for stopping by, Brooke, and thanks so much for writing this wonderful article. It’s getting shared a lot on social media, particularly Facebook, which is the most important, in my humble opinion. It great to learn that Vermont has jumped in for the good of dogs. I will add your note to the end of your post. Take care!

  2. This is a great thing – I didn’t know a “service” like that exists. Luckily, I never ran into a situation like that, nor have I done it myself.
    I saw a pet in car once or twice on shopping mall parking lot, but owners kindly left the AC on, and a note that he’s alright. I’m always for taking them with you, but note is really a good idea.

    • Thanks for your comment, Lily. I haven’t run into a situation where I felt something had to be done for a pet in a hot car, either, and I hope I never do. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post, Lily. Take care!

  3. I totally agree. I wish Florida had laws. I have 4 Yorkies and would never, ever leave my babies in a hot car. They are my children. Anyone who abuses (leaving in a hot car is abuse) should be punished and not allowed to have an animal. It’s different if you run to the bathroom and leave the AC on, that’s not cruelty OR if it’s winter and you take them with you. Please people animals breath also so take care of your sweet, loving pets. They care more about us than anyone else!!!

  4. Great advice!
    I also think it’s important for pet owners to remember to leave a note on the car, in case you’re going for that really short bathroom break with the a/c on.

    • Hello Anne. That’s a very good idea, actually, even if it’s inside on your dashboard. A large note, so people can see it right away. Thanks for the thought. Hmmm … Cat Themes Bed Sheets … going to check it out now. Thanks for your input! 🙂


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