With sweltering days ahead of us, children and animals are faced with the dangers of being left alone in hot cars.
Last month a bill that protects animals in hot cars was signed into law, mirroring a law that now protects children.
Public law 186, formerly known as House Bill 1085, provides that a person who breaks a window to a vehicle to remove an animal is responsible for only one-half of the cost of repairing the vehicle's damage directly caused by a forcible entry and is immune from all other civil or criminal liability for other property damage resulting from the entry.
In order to be immune from charges, the person must have contacted police before attempting to break into the vehicle, believe the animal is in danger, use reasonable force, and stay with the animals until authorities arrive.
Rep. Tony Cook, R-Cicero, was the author of the bill. "This bill can prevent many needless injuries and often death for Indiana pets," Cicero said when introducing the measure.
In order to avoid legal liability, according to the law, the rescuer must use "no more force than is reasonably necessary," must stay on the scene and must notify a law enforcement officer, firefighter or animal control officer, among other requirements.
"It only takes seconds for a car to get well over 100 degrees," Indianapolis Fire Department Battalion Chief Rita Reith said.
A study by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals states that on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
During testimony, Amy-Jo Sights, the director of Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control, said that from May 1 to Sept. 30, they received 269 calls for dogs trapped in hot cars.
Reith insisted that individuals call 911 before breaking a vehicle's window, adding that a person ought to see if the doors are unlocked door first.
If action is necessary, Reith urges people to be careful in breaking a window.
"If you have the ability to break the window, depending on the make and material of the window, there are ways to do it," adding that the corners of a window near the door handle are the weakest points of the glass.
"If you're at a store parking lot I would think to run in and buy a window punch if you can do it quickly," she said.
She also advised individuals to carry a window punch tool in their vehicles just in case.
Half of the states have good Samaritan laws already in place to protect people in situations when they rescue animals, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Erin Huang, the Indiana State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, told IndyStar in February, that people frequently come across animals trapped in cars and don't know what to do for fear of being sued.
"Every year thousands of our companion animals succumb to heat stroke in hot unattended vehicles," Huang said. " And minutes do matter when an animal’s life is hanging in the balance in extreme conditions."
Reith says use common sense. "Don’t break the window If you don’t have to."