The Illinois legislature will soon discuss if good Samaritans should be allowed to rescue kids and pets left inside hot vehicles. The plan would decriminalize breaking windows or opening locked doors when the temperature makes it a potentially deadly situation.
One proposal outlines a passerby would first have to call authorities to report a situation of a distressed animal and then make a good-faith attempt to rescue it.
Marc Ayers, Illinois state director for the Humane Society of the U.S., says currently only police or investigators are allowed to break into cars. But waiting around for law enforcement may not help with the animal's well-being.
“You know in these situations, literally seconds matter,” he says.
Last year, Beata Zabrinas of Tinley Park pulled into a Bolingbrook IKEA parking lot and found a dog left inside a nearby car. According to the police report, the weather that afternoon was 89 degrees. Zabrinas noticed the dog had been left inside a crate and was unresponsive.
The car owner had left a window rolled down just enough to allow Zabrinas and her family members to unlock the door and haul the dog crate into her air-conditioned vehicle. Zabrinas says she remained on the phone with police while the rescue took place, and according to her call-log, 16 minutes passed until their arrival to the scene.
“I am certain that had we not been able to open the car doors, the dog would have died a horrible death,” she says.
Ayers says if the proposal is approved, Illinois will become the 12th state to have such law in place. A separate measure has been filed that addresses children left inside vehicles under similar circumstances.