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Police can now smash your car windows without fear of being sued

Police officers are now legally protected from being sued if they break a window out of a car to help an animal in need, Kay Joubert with the PAWS animal shelter in Lynnwood told KIRO Radio's Colleen O'Brien.
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Most dog owners can tell you that you should never leave a pet inside a car under the hot sun. But not all dog owners can tell you that, which is why the state Legislature passed new laws that give law enforcement officers the ability to solve such a situation in a smashing fashion.

Police officers are now legally protected from being sued if they break a window out of a car to help an animal in need, Kay Joubert with the PAWS animal shelter in Lynnwood told KIRO Radio’s Colleen O’Brien.

“Not only for cases of vehicles, but any time an animal is found in any space with excessive heat, excessive cold, lack of ventilation, or even lack of necessary water,” she said. “Most people would think that ‘wow, wouldn’t that be a natural thing for us to be able to have officers protect those animals.’ The answer is ‘no.'”

“[The law] now does that. And it states that the officer or the agencies that employ them is not liable for any property damage,” Joubert said.

Police officers are equipped with a device that allows them to determine the interior temperature of a vehicle, Joubert said. If that temperature is too high for Fido to tolerate, then they have the authority to smash out the window and save the pooch.

But this law is only for officers. Passersby with no law enforcement authority are not protected by the law should they decide to break out a window on their own.

The issue of hot cars and pets is only one matter the Legislature recently took on. Only rooster fighting was illegal until a new law was passed last session that made it illegal to engage in dog fighting, and other animal fighting.

“In some cultures, they will be used to fight livestock, or they’ll have dogs fighting against male pigs,” Joubert said. “Instead of worrying about what people might do, we are just making it illegal to do it with any of them.”

The fighting ban also translates into preventing other crimes, Joubert notes.

“They often find that there are illegal drugs, there’s illegal gambling happening, often there’s illegal weapons and they’re exposing minors to that or getting them to actually participate in it,” she said.

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