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New Pet Rescue Law In Indiana - The Provision You Should Know

Steve Wagner

Pet Rescue Law Goes Into Effect July 1 – With ONE Provision

The new Good Samaritan law that was created to protect rescuers against being prosecuted for breaking into a hot vehicle to rescue a trapped animal will go into effect on July 1. May 1 thru September 30, 2016, the Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control unit reported 269 calls about ‘just dogs’ left in cars. The average interior temperature of these cars ranged from 90-130 degrees, and law enforcement response time was between five and 20 minutes. Animal health workers say that is too long to chance it and also that this law will save those animals lives.

One important provision to House Enrolled Act 1085 that shouldn’t be left out though: rescue bystanders would still have to cover the costs of any damaged created from the break-in, up to 50 percent. Although someone who breaks into a hot car to rescue a trapped pet would not have to pay for any damage if the owner agrees to cover the costs. Lawmakers added the provision in hopes to prevent people from breaking into a vehicle to steal something rather than save an animal. Making them responsible for half the cost of repairing the damage they cause to the vehicle may curb that chance.

Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) told WISHTV, “The overzealous, the person who might use it as a defense to break and enter a car to steal, to thieve; those were the type of things that they were interested in and concerned about trying to avert.”

Understanding House Enrolled Act 1085

“Hot car” laws are becoming increasingly more prevalent, with eight enacted in recent years and more, similar to Indiana’s, on the way. In order for rescuers to receive protection under Indiana’s House Enrolled Act 1085, Good Samaritans’ actions must meet several conditions including:

  • they must notify law enforcement prior to entering the car
  • they must reasonably believe the animal is in in imminent danger
  • they cannot exceed a reasonable amount of force in retrieving the animal
  • and they must remain on the premises with the animal until law enforcement arrives on the scene.

Prior to 1085, breaking someone else’s car window to release an animal could bring a lawsuit with it. Indiana law enforcement and the district attorney could also prosecute the rescuer for vandalism or property damage. It is critical that owners are aware of their local laws concerning this subject. Even without a state or local law, the action of leaving a pet in a hot car could still constitute cruelty under some circumstances. Animal neglect is considered a misdemeanor crime in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Although we would like to hope the court would side with you, having a law in place would only protect and help those who want to be a hero and save an animal from extreme overheating.

About the Lawyers

Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese can handle your questions about new Indiana laws and how they could affect you. Call the law firm of Wagner Reese today at (888) 204-8440 for your FREE consultation!

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