Don’t Put Your Paws On My Car: Washington State Dog Law Raises the Roof
How does that old song go, "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fiyah! We don't need no water, let the...." well, you get the drift. Let's face it, with the temperatures in the Yakima Valley reaching the triple digits this week, if you don't have working air conditioning in your car, the roof might as well be on fire!
If it feels like an oven in your car, imagine that feeling is intensified for any animals in your car! If you see a dog, cat or any other animal locked up in someone's hot car, what are you supposed to do?
First of all, keep in mind that in Washington state, you are not allowed to break someone else's car window. Only law enforcement is legally allowed to do that, thanks to legislation that protects police officers from liability for busting the windows of your car when rescuing an animal.
As for us regular schmegular folks, no can do! You could be sued by the car's owner if you take matters into your own hands by breaking a car window, even if it is to rescue an animal! Another thing to consider is that if you did manage to rescue an animal from a locked car, what if it attacks you (because of "Stranger Danger")? Yikes! I have been viciously barked at by many a dog in a locked car; I'm not about to risk my life (and limbs) to save their angry barking behinds!
Rescuer Beware: It is best to just pick up a phone and dial 911 if you see an animal locked up in a car on a hot day!
According to state law (RCW 16.52.340), it is against the law for anyone to "leave or confine any animal in unattended motor vehicle or enclosed space". A person can be charged with animal cruelty in the first degree or second degree for doing so because "the animal could be harmed or killed by exposure to excessive heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or lack of necessary water." If you are caught breaking this law, your ticket penalty is $125 dollars.
It is recommended that if you see an animal trapped in a hot car, you first try to find the owner of the car. If that is not possible, call 911. The police will take it from there, likely getting special assistance from someone from the animal control department.
Remember, if you take your pet with you along for a ride in the car, you have a responsibility to protect it from danger, and the extreme heat this week in the Yakima Valley will be pretty "ruff" on dogs! The best thing you can do is take your dog with you, wherever you're going, or best yet, just leave your dog at home.
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