People can already break into cars to save pets in TN, GA lawmaker wants similar law

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – You may not know this, but in Tennessee, you can bust into a stranger’s car to save a pet in distress.

It’s that sort of protection that could also become law in Georgia, if proposed legislation passes.

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Animal Services Administrator Tiffany Newcomb remembered the last time someone in Chattanooga broke into a car to save a pet.

It happened at a Wal-Mart parking lot.

“For whatever reason people will take their animals with them and leave them in the car, and I believe this particular person was there for over an hour and the good Samaritan thought the animal was in distress so they broke the window out and took the dog out,” she said.

In Tennessee, law protects people from being liable for damages when a person forces their way inside a vehicle to save a pet from what could be a deadly situation.

“Once it starts getting 70 degrees and above we start seeing a flood of calls in regards to people leaving their animals inside vehicles and within a matter of minutes it can do detrimental effects to that animal,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb said in order for someone to be immune from break-in damages, the animal must be in distress or imminent danger.

“Some signs of that are extreme panting, if the dog was having seizures, passed out, vomiting, things of that nature,” she said.

Under the law, there are requirements people must meet to not be held liable.

That includes believing the the pet is in danger, calling 911, then breaking in.

“Always make sure that the door, all the doors are locked before a window is broken, that could save you definitely a lawsuit,” Newcomb said

She said while it’s not often that people force their way inside a car to save a pet, it is helpful to have this protection in place.

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