Overheated car notwithstanding, it’s illegal to break a window to free a dog

Jul 14, 2021, 5:43 PM | Updated: Jul 15, 2021, 4:34 pm
break car window dog...
Salt Lake County Animal Services says a dog died Tuesday after being left in a hot car. (Salt Lake County Animal Services)
(Salt Lake County Animal Services)

SALT LAKE CITY — In Utah you can be charged with a class B misdemeanor — unlikely, but does carry a possibility of jail time — for breaking the window of an overheated car to rescue a hot dog in the summer heat.

It doesn’t matter that, if the outside temperature is 100 degrees, after 30 minutes, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 134 degrees. It doesn’t matter that dogs can experience heat exhaustion when their body temperature hits just 103 degrees. A person can be charged with a class B misdemeanor for breaking the window of a car to rescue a dog from boiling to death. 

And by the way, cracking a window and parking in the shade make little difference.

But it’s legal to free a child from a overheated car

In 2018, an amendment to the “Good Samaritan Law” went into effect in Utah that grants civil immunity to civilians who break into a vehicle to rescue a child confined inside. 

Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office joined KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss.

In June, Debbie measured 179 degrees on the leather seat in her car. 

To put in context, pork spare ribs are done slow smoking when the internal temperature reaches 175-180 degrees.

“You’re essentially baking, whatever is in there, whether that’s a child or an animal. That might seem a little harsh to say, but that’s reality,” Cannon said.

Cannon said people have expressed their frustrations to him about having to watch and wait and for a police officer to arrive while a dog trapped inside a car is suffering under severe heat.

“A dog could die within those five to 10 minutes that it takes for an officer to arrive and legally open the car,” he said.

By the way, it’s generally only safe to leave your dog in the car for a maximum of five minutes, when the outside temperature is above freezing and below 70 degrees, according to hillspet.com.

Should we revisit the law for pets in an overheated car?

Republican state Sen. Todd Weiler of Woods Cross joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to talk about what can be done to change the law to allow a concerned citizen to save an animal dying inside a overheated vehicle.

Weiler said in Utah 80% of all crimes are prosecuted in just three counties: Davis, Salt Lake and Utah. 

“I talked to all three county attorneys . . . all three told me, on this particular situation, that they would never press charges against someone who was breaking a widow on 100 degree days to save an animal,” he said. “One of the county attorneys said that any prosecutor who would bring these charges should not be a prosecutor.”

Weiler mentioned the Tesla Model 3 has a climate-control feature that keeps the inside of the car cool on hot days and warm on cold days when the owner has stepped away and a pet is inside. A 15-inch screen displays this message: “My owner will be back soon. Don’t worry! The heater [or A/C] is on and it’s [XX] degrees.” Tesla boasts it’s is “one of the benefits of having a giant battery pack onboard.”

Debbie asked the senator if there was an appetite among his colleagues to include a provision about saving pets in hot cars to the previously amended “Good Samaritan Law.”

“I will make this commitment live on KSL NewsRadio: I will discuss it with my colleagues . . . I also want to see what our legislative attorneys say because they’re really good at saying, “But what about this? And have you thought about that?”



Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

The main reason small businesses fail in America is that the business owner doesn't have access to ...
Simone Seikaly

Lack of access stands between Black-owned businesses and success

But lack of access to money isn't the only thing that hinders Black-owned business in Utah and across the nation.
19 hours ago
More Americans are struggling to pay their energy bills.  Nearly 1.5 million more U.S. households ...
Curt Gresseth

Cost of heating homes in Utah rising as thermometer sinks

The cost of heating a home in Utah is rising because demand has increased and the drought in the West has cut into production.
19 hours ago
A bill that could make its way to the Utah legislature in the 2023 session would require school dis...
Mark Jones

Potential redesign of new Utah State Flag emphasizes Native American tribes

Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton) is sponsoring a bill that would call for a slight redesign of the new Utah State Flag.
2 days ago
As temperatures in the state plummet far below zero, advocates with Unsheltered Utah built an unsan...
Devin Oldroyd

Unsheltered Utah opens warming tent for unhoused people to escape frigid temperatures

As temperatures in the state plummet far below zero, advocates with Unsheltered Utah built an unsanctioned makeshift warming tent Monday.
2 days ago
education legislation...
Mark Jones

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in classrooms

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in Utah classrooms.
3 days ago
It's so cold today (Jan. 30) that plumbers are expecting calls anytime from customers needing servi...
Curt Gresseth

When it’s this cold, keep your pipes from freezing. Here’s how.

It's so cold outside today that a plumber has joined the show to share tips on keeping your pipes inside and outside your home from freezing.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Overheated car notwithstanding, it’s illegal to break a window to free a dog