Can You Legally Break A Car Window To Rescue a Dog Here In Minnesota?
It's a question that comes up every summer when the weather gets hot: Can you legally break a car window to rescue an animal here in Minnesota?
With our high temperatures topping out in the upper 90s across most of Minnesota earlier this week-- and a long, hot summer ahead of us-- it's a topic that's once again timely. If you're a pet lover, it's something you've probably thought about. Would you break a window to rescue a pet in distress in a hot car?
We've heard many times how quickly the temperature can skyrocket in a vehicle with its windows rolled up during a hot summer day in Minnesota, and how we need to leave our pets at home when it's hot. (By the way, this chart shows just how dangerously hot a vehicle can become when it's in the sun-- with temps soaring to nearly 115 degrees in just 10 minutes when it's 95 degrees outside, as it was Wednesday.)
So if you see a dog or cat in distress closed in a vehicle here in Minnesota when it's hot and steamy outside (or when it's 30 degrees below zero in the winter) can you legally break a window or break into the vehicle to rescue them? Well, yes-- and no.
According to an article from the Animal Legal & Historical Center at Michigan State University, it IS legal for SOME Minnesotans to break in to save the animal-- but only if they're a law enforcement officer or first responder:
The following parties in Minnesota may use reasonable force to enter a motor vehicle and remove a dog or cat which has been left in the vehicle in violation of the law:
+ a peace officer
+ a humane agent
+ a dog warden
+ a volunteer or professional member of a fire or rescue department
The Michigan State article also says Minnesota law also stipulates that once a person does remove a dog or cat from a hot car, they then need to try to find the owner, using 'reasonable means.' However, it also states that if someone not one of the parties listed above breaks into a car to rescue a dog or cat in distress, they would be guilty of a petty misdemeanor-- and a subject to a fine of $25.
Now, I don't know about you, but I would certainly pay a fine of $25 if it meant I could rescue a dog or cat in a hot car when there weren't any other options available. It's just what a pet-lover would do, right? However, did you know there are some animals that you're NOT allowed to have here in Minnesota? Keep scrolling to see which animals are illegal to keep as pets!