Photo by Metro Creative Images.

The temperature inside parked cars spikes quickly in Texas, and hot cars have proven hazardous for pets and children alike. Now that spring has officially sprung, it’s possible you’ll encounter a dog unattended inside a hot car. Would it be legal to break the window and rescue the dog?

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Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation on the issue, and fourteen states give civil immunity to good Samaritans who rescue an animal from an unattended vehicle. So far, though, Texas has not.

Texas has a general Good Samaritan Law that states “a person who in good faith administers emergency care is not liable in civil damages for an act performed during the emergency unless the act is willfully or wantonly negligent.”

A 2021 bill sponsored by Celia Israel, former state representative from Austin, would have granted civil immunity to those who rescue domestic animals, but the bill did not advance. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) says they are “still committed to working on this issue, however, and will continue to try new approaches in the 2023 session to get this bill signed into law and protect vulnerable pets from the intense Texas heat.”

The ALDF ranks Texas 11th in the nation on the strength of our animal protection laws.

If you find yourself in an emergency with a dog or cat wilting in a locked car, the Humane Society of the United States has these tips:

  • Write down the car’s make, model and license plate number,
  • Notify the manager or security guard of a nearby business, and ask them to make an announcement in an effort to find the car’s owner, and/or
  • Call the non-emergency number of local police or animal control.

“Leaving pets locked in cars is never safe, but when the weather gets warmer, it can be deadly,” reminds the Humane Society. “Protecting animals from an unnecessary death is a problem we can all agree to prevent.”