At long last, a Good Samaritan bill for people who break car windows to rescue dogs

This one’s for Kyle Clark.

staff photo

This one’s for Kyle Clark.

A bill introduced Tuesday in the Colorado House of Representatives would provide Good Samaritan protections for people who break into vehicles to rescue dogs. Also to rescue people, like kids or at-risk adults. And cats.

But not livestock. (We see you, PETA.)

Now, you couldn’t just go willy-nilly smashing car windows. The bill lays out the steps a person would have to take before they’d be justified in breaking into a stranger’s car.

Gwen the puppy in Cheesman Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Don't leave me in a car on a hot day. If you leave me in a car, a stranger might break the window to free me, and you wouldn't even be able to sue them. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

  1. You would have to think the animal or person was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.
  2. You would have to check and make sure the door is actually locked first. If it’s not locked, just open it!
  3. You would have to make a reasonable effort to find the owner or driver of the vehicle.
  4. You would have to contact law enforcement.
  5. You would have to use just enough force to get into the vehicle and rescue the occupant and no more.
  6. You would have to stay on the scene until the owner or law enforcement showed up, and if you absolutely had to leave, you would need to leave a note with your contact information and provide that information to law enforcement as well.

But if you did all those things, you would be exempt from any criminal or civil liability for breaking into someone’s car and damaging it to rescue a person or animal inside.

House Bill 1179, “Immunity For Emergency Rescue From Locked Vehicle,” was introduced by Rep. Lori Saine, a Firestone Republican, with Democratic co-sponsor Rep. Joann Ginal of Fort Collins. There is a very long list of people from both parties who have put their names on this one.

We may not find bipartisan agreement on paying for highways this session, but this bill is off to a promising start.