Good Samaritan Laws and Helping Our Furry Friends


There is no denying that summer months are hard on everyone, both for humans and our four-legged friends. Unfortunately for dogs, they do not have the freedom to go inside if they are too hot, or to turn on the air conditioner in the car while we wait for our family that went inside a store like humans can. Additionally, dogs are obviously unable to open doors for themselves and rely completely on their human companions to let them out of hot vehicles. When they are left unsupervised in vehicles while their humans go shopping, they are often times silently (or not-so-silently) suffering in the heat. Vehicles can heat up extremely fast when left in the sun, even if the windows are cracked open. Thankfully, a law that went into effect in 2016 allows good Samaritans and dog lovers alike to take measures into their own hands, should they come across a dog locked in a hot vehicle.

According to ORC 959.133, “a person shall be immune from civil liability for any damage resulting from the forcible entry of a motor vehicle for the purpose of removing an animal.” The statute goes on to outline precautions one should take before breaking the window of a stranger’s vehicle, such as first attempting to open the door and contacting emergency services. One must also leave a notice on the vehicle’s windshield indicating why the vehicle was entered, where the dog is, contact information, and the fact that emergency services were notified. Once the dog is freed from the baking car, it is that person’s responsibility to stay with the dog until emergency services arrive and take custody.

Another statute in the Revised Code allows anybody to enter onto someone else’s property in order to provide water, food, or attention to a neglected animal. ORC 1717.13 also indicates “when, in order to protect any animal from neglect, it is necessary to take possession of it, any person may do so.” This statute specifies that the animal must be without water, food, or attention for fifteen consecutive hours before intervening. It is important to use adequate care when considering entering someone else’s property to care for a dog, so as to not put oneself or the dog in more danger. However, it is not hard to empathize with those willing to go great lengths to save our furry friends.

Since dogs do not have the ability to advocate for themselves, sometimes humans must take it upon themselves to advocate for dogs in dangerous positions. Thankfully, the State of Ohio has laws allowing humans to perform otherwise criminal activities in order to save dogs, but it is important to take precautionary steps prior to acting, including calling the police or trying to get in touch with the dog’s owner. Please feel free to visit our website or contact our office at (330) 718-9499 should you need legal representation in Ohio or Pennsylvania!

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