What to know before helping a child or pet in a hot car

Published: Aug. 9, 2017 at 9:00 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 10, 2017 at 5:02 AM MST
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(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - An amendment to the Good Samaritan Law in Arizona now protects individuals from civil lawsuits if they break a window to help a child or animal escape a hot car.

The amendment isn't a green light for everyone to start smashing windows.

There are several steps one needs to follow to make sure he or she is acting within the law, according to the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

Deputy Cody Gress, a spokesman for the PCSD, said any situation that involves a child or a pet in a car should start with a call to 911.

He said it's important for the caller to remain on scene until first responders arrive.

If the condition of the human or animal reaches a point that the caller does not feel safe waiting on emergency crews, Gress said then the individual should break the window "with good intentions".

What are the warning signs or symptoms of distress in an animal?

They can vary with animal or the situation, according to Chief Animal Protection Officer Adam Ricci with Pima Animal Care Center.

He said that's why it is so important for the 911 caller to remain at the scene and assess any change in mood or activity in the animal.

"You might see excessive panting or they might be panicked quite a bit," he said. "That's a very early stage of an animal that's facing heat-related issues."

Excessive drooling, lethargy, or even seizures could be a sign of a pet in need of help. Ricci said it could be the exact opposite as well, with an overactive animal that's attempting to escape the heat.

Before breaking any windows though, Ricci urged people to check door handles first.

"We had a guy break a $400 window one time, only to find the door was unlocked," he said.

So far in 2017, Gress said sheriff's deputies have responded to approximately 26 calls for animals and 4 calls for children left in cars.

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