Can you legally smash a car window to save a dog?
We’ve seen a lot of heartwarming and heroic dog-trapped-in-warm-car rescuing missions lately. Although you are saving a dog’s life, you could get into a lot of trouble by breaking someone’s car window.
So what do you do when you see a dog suffering in the back of someone’s vehicle?
If a dog is displaying any signs of heatstroke, it’s imperative you call 999 immediately.
Symptoms you should look out for:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- The dog has collapsed
DO: Call 999 first
You should call 999 and ask for the police, informing them that you’ve found a dog in a hot car (include location and vehicle registration). Take photos and video, get details of witnesses.
DON’T: Call RSPCA first
The RSPCA may not be able to get there quickly enough and have no powers of entry. Either way, they would need police assistance to get into the car without the owner’s permission.
DO call the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234999 for advice once you’ve contacted the police and they are on their way.
Should you break the window?
If it is a critical situation and the police will not be there on time, you may want to smash the window and rescue the dog yourself. Beware: this could still be classed as criminal damage.
Nevertheless, there are ways you can mitigate.
- Tell the police of your intention of smashing the window to rescue the dog.
- Take photos or video footage of the dog in the car to prove that it was suffering.
- If there are any witnesses, take down their names and numbers so they can back you up if necessary.