Author Topic: Anybody know the laws in Georgia about breaking a car window?  (Read 1944 times)

Offline gramma2jaakk

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To get a dog out of the car?

Today I was shopping (not an easy task, considering I was looking for a red shirt to wear to a funeral.  Long story)  One of my stops was Wal-Mart.  I found a parking space and as I turned my car off I could hear a dog barking.  Hmm, someone left their dog in the car, and it is hot in Atlanta.  I call 911, told the operator what the call was about, described the car (color, make, model and tag number).  The windows on the car were down about 1 inch.  The operator said an officer would be there shortly, and asked if the dog was ok.  I told her at that time the dog was just barking but if I felt he was in distress then I would break the window with no problem.  The few minutes I sat talking to the operator, with my car turned off, it was hot in my car and I was sweating.

Within 2 minutes after we ended the call, the person came out and left.  I rang 911 back and told them the car was now gone.  My former daughter-in-laws sister said she would break the window and ask questions later.  But I've heard that if you break a car window, you could be liable for damages, UNLESS the animal is in distress.  When I told her that my insurance might not be able to handle damages (unless the dog was going to expire) she said she doesn't care about the law, only the animal.

So that is why I'm asking.  Would I be liable for breaking the window if the animal was not in distress?  Would I have to pay damages?  I was watching to make sure the dog was ok, and I had water too, in case i had to break the window and he needed any.  The operator didn't tell me to or not to break the window.

Offline *Kat*

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Re: Anybody know the laws in Georgia about breaking a car window?
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 07:41:04 PM »
But did you know that in several states it is illegal to leave your dog in a car?  There are 14 states – Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia, that currently have statutes “that specifically prohibit leaving an animal in confined vehicle“.
The penalties range from monetary fines to being charged with a misdemeanor, and in some states, it even includes imprisonment. The Animal Legal and Historical Center website contains a list of the states with laws and what penalties apply. They even lay out what is allowed/not allowed in those states when it comes to rescuing an animal left in a car.

http://nodogaboutit.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/do-you-know-which-states-have-laws-against-leaving-a-dog-in-a-hot-car/

It's not even on the books in Georgia, so I think you have no protection if you break the window

Offline gramma2jaakk

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Re: Anybody know the laws in Georgia about breaking a car window?
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 07:49:00 PM »
I can't get your link to work, it says 'page not found'.   ???

Yes, I saw that in those states it is against the law to leave animals in a car.  And Georgia isn't one of them!!  It gets down-right HOT in Atlanta.  I wish they would make it a law here too.

Offline *Kat*

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Re: Anybody know the laws in Georgia about breaking a car window?
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 10:24:24 PM »
sorry, link no longer working for me either.   Call your local police non emergency number and ASK.  Sure you are not the only one who has been in the situation.   Most states with it on the books does not make you non liable and say to call the police and stay with the car until they arrive.   and that it is legal for law enforcement to take necessary means.   

Offline bit-bit

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Re: Anybody know the laws in Georgia about breaking a car window?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2014, 02:28:16 AM »
This is something that has been irking me for a while.  I keep seeing posts on Facebook encouraging breaking windows ANYTIME you see a dog in a car, without mentioning the legal aspect.  In most states, as Kat mentioned, it's not illegal to leave the dog unless it ends up harmed (when you get into animal cruelty charges).  However, damaging another person's property, EVEN IF there is a crime going on with it, is illegal everywhere.  Calling the authorities, like you did, is definitely the most legal course of action.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell whether a dog is in distress from heat.  Barking is actually a good sign, and a dog in serious heat stroke might just look like he's relaxing or sleeping.  If the dog was in distress and your intervention helped/saved it, you might get sympathy from law enforcement, but you will still have broken the law.  Even if you aren't charged with a crime, the owner of the car can sue you in small claims court for the damage as a civil issue (again, you might get sympathy from the judge, but that doesn't mean it was legal or you aren't liable).

Most people here will say that the well-being of the dog is more important than any legal or financial consequence, and while I agree in principle, I think it's always important to know what you're getting yourself into before you act.  That's a judgment call you have to make on the spot, knowing the possible consequences for the dog and for yourself.

If it ever happens that you think an animal is truly in distress, I would ask the dispatcher specifically whether it's OK to break the glass.  I don't know whether that gives you any actual legal cover (breaking the law under police instruction is usually OK, but a dispatcher is not an officer), but the calls are always recorded, so you would have it to back up your side of the story should a legal issue arise.

Georgia specifically has some unusual animal/property laws.  A friend of mine's dog was attacked by two unleashed, aggressive, large-breed dogs while walking down a public sidewalk with her smaller dog on a leash.  Because the dogs were in their own yard (which apparently the sidewalk is part of, and doesn't require a fence), she was liable for the vet bills of all three, and her dog was the one who got the legal label of "vicious animal", which is essentially one strike away from mandatory euthanasia.  Not at all similar to the dog-in-car situation, but it shows the kind of illogical outcome that can happen when property law is placed above animal welfare law.  This was in Athens - she ended up moving out to the country afterwards in part because she couldn't find an apartment in town that would let her keep her "vicious" dog.

Offline *Kat*

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Re: Anybody know the laws in Georgia about breaking a car window?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2014, 09:13:21 PM »
they won't/shouldn't tell you to break the law, might tell you if you feel you must etc but make it clear it is your choice not their advice.   

Bit-bit - sadly most people feel the 2-3 feet on both sides of a sidewalk is fair game for their dogs to walk and don't keep them on the sidewalk anyways.   I take my dogs out with supervision and teathered to the front porch and unable to even reach the sidewalk and get death glares if my dog barks at them.   Mind you often times this is people walking or walking their dogs between midnight and 3am.   Yeah, I'm not going to tell my dogs NOT to alert me of night walkers.