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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71039
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Please. What is the law regarding rescuing a dog from a hot

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Please. What is the law regarding rescuing a dog from a hot locked car if the owner cannot be located and the animal is visibly distressed or endangered?

Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.

-Could you explain your situation a little more?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I found a young dog left in a sealed car in Dulwich Park car park yesterday. No shade. Ambient temperature 22C. After some minutes I was able to locate the owner and politely indicated to him the danger to his puppy. He was reasonable and grateful and retrieved his dog instead of continuing his fitness class.


However - I realised that I am completely ignorant as to how I could have dealt with the situation had I been unable to locate the owner. The pup was panting and squeaking and had been left with no water or open window.


I later telephone the RSPCA for information but they were unable to tell me anything except that to break into the car would render me liable to a charge of criminal damage.


Are there any guidelines as to a proper course of action?


The RSPCA are a complete waste of everybody's time in my opinion.

You can always just call the police who are actually fairly helpful in situations like this and even if they are not then the fact that you have reported your concern before you act would support any defence that you subsequently rose.

I have to say that I have never actually been in a position where I have had to do this but this is what I would do.

Obviously make every effort you can to locate the owner. If you are parked in a supermarket car park then get the staff there to announce the concern over the tannoy etc.

Then call the police and report your concern. If they are not willing to deal with it explain that you intend to. Even if they do refuse, and they won't, the fact that you have made a call will be recorded.

Take pictures on your phone of the vehicle and the dog.

Then break the window.

You are vulnerable to a charge of criminal damage. You do have a defence.

The law is set out here

and it basically says that you cannot damage property without lawful excuse.

You will find the definition of lawful excuse here

and, in fact, I think you are covered by both heads under Ss2

If you look at 2[a] you only have to show that a person would have consented and most people, even completely negligent dog owners, are not going to come along to court and tell the court that they would not have consented to a window being broken while their dog roasted alive.

Also, you are clearly covered under both heads of 2

This is the defence that the police regularly use to break windows or indeed that the fire brigade use to break in.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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