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Is it legal to break a vehicle window for an animal in Arizona

Heat Advisory
Heat Advisory

Arizona is one of the hottest places in the United States and the last thing that any person should do, is leave their pet for any amount of time inside a hot vehicle. Even when windows are cracked, the temperature can raise above 150 degrees in minimal time.

Walking by a vehicle a little dog is locked in a blistering hot car and there’s a short period of time to act-what do you do? What are the legalities?

Russ Rischelsoph a Phoenix defense attorney said the answer isn't well defined [cited by Anastasia Reynolds]. However, there are certain circumstances when a person can legally break a car window to save an animals who is suffering in a blistering hot car.

Arizona revised statutes 13-417 is a law called the 'necessity defense' that states if the person can give just cause to why they had broken the window to save the dog’s life, then taking action would be justified.

In Arizona true good Samaritans are rarely charged with a crime. However, it is cautioned there are always many circumstances that are considering when a person is cited for a crime. Before deciding to break a window of a vehicle, there are several factors that need to be considered.

Does the dog appear to be in serious distress? Unconscious? Non-responsive?

Is there anyway to notify the owner?

Has the police or fire department been notified of the situation?

Whatever decision is made, always contact law enforcement prior to making the decision if all other resources have been exhausted.