Via the Los Angeles Times:
Here’s a scenario to ponder on a sweltering summer day: You’re walking down the street when you notice a distressed dog trapped in a locked car. What do you do?
A California law that went into effect in January says that if you’re concerned for a vehicle-bound animal’s safety and can’t find its owner, you’re legally allowed to break into the car to rescue the dog — but only if you call authorities first. You would be expected to wait with the dog until an authority — animal control, fire department, law enforcement or 911 emergency service — arrives to the scene.
The understanding of the law is that if you were to follow the steps above, you’d be in the clear and protected from civil and criminal liabilities that exempt you from paying for property damage or trespassing. But there are some gray areas here, namely pertaining to perception. In response to a tweet about the law (from this author), several people chimed in to argue that if you’re a person of color, a police officer or bystander might not realize that you’re trying to save an animal.