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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
9:32 AM Thu, Sept. 20th

Editorial: Do we need a child/pet rescue law?

If a police officer or other trained emergency personnel break out a car window to reach a stranded child or dog in a hot car, that’s one thing.

Giving the average Joe the legal right to do that? Well, that makes me a bit uneasy, to borrow the Prescott Valley police chief’s take on it.

An Arizona senator plans to introduce legislation that will protect a good Samaritan from legal issues if they attempt a rescue.

SB 1001 requires a “good faith belief’’ that the child or animal is “in imminent danger of suffering physical injury or death’’ unless removed from the vehicle.

The citizen rescuer must first notify authorities and then stay with the child or animal until help arrives.

Do we really need a law for this?

I think most people who see an infant alone in a car would call 911 and then try the doors, and then break a window if necessary, regardless if some thoughtless parent could sue them. I think that parent is in a lot more hot water at that point, anyway.

If a pet is in distress, a usual response would be to call 911 and take into consideration the animal’s immediate status before getting into someone else’s vehicle.

Of course, there are always the people who would take advantage of such a law and leap to the “breaking in” stage first. Unless law enforcement can get there quickly, a rescuer does leave themselves open to retaliation if the car owner comes back in the meantime.

There are a lot of questions for the bill as crafted.

Can someone still sue a rescuer if their pet was in their locked car on a 95 degree day, with the air conditioning running and they didn’t notice that fact? People get excited and might jump the gun with breaking in, thinking they are covered by the law.

Definitely some food for thought. We tend, as a nation, to over-legislate everything and this doesn’t seem to be a necessary law when common sense and a fast 911 call could work.