It’s Totally Legal to Break a Dog Out of a Hot Car in Some States


There are different animal protection laws for leaving dogs locked in a hot car across the country. What’s the law in your state?

map hot car laws
Overview of State Laws

There are 31 states that have some sort of “hot car” law protecting dogs locked in cars. Some of them even have laws that grant civic immunity to people who rescue a distressed animal from a vehicle. Here’s a breakdown of the laws and how many states enforce them:


The Good Samaritan” Laws, followed by 15 states, grant civil immunity for civilians (under select circumstances) to rescue an animal from an unattended car; however, each state has specific requirements.

Check the list below for your state:

  1. Arizona
  2. California
  3. Colorado
  4. Connecticut
  5. Delaware
  6. Florida
  7. Indiana
  8. Kansas
  9. Louisiana
  10. Massachusettes
  11. Ohio
  12. Oregon
  13. Tennessee
  14. Vermont
  15. Wisconsin

dog left alone in car


There are 16 states that grant law enforcement and other public officials to break into an unattended vehicle to rescue an animal as long as certain conditions are met. Check the list below for your state:

  1. Delaware
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Illinois
  4. Maine
  5. Maryland
  6. Minnesota
  7. Nevada
  8. New Hampshire
  9. New York
  10. North Carolina
  11. North Dakota
  12. Pennsylvania
  13. Rhode Island
  14. South Dakota
  15. Virginia
  16. Washington


The below two states have made it a crime to leave an animal unattended in a hot car if there is risk of serious injury/death; however, no one is protected if they rescue the dog.

  1. West Virginia
  2. New Jersey

animal protection laws for leaving dogs locked in a hot car

You might be wondering what about the other 19 states missing from the above lists. Some of them do not have any laws and others have bills pending, such as Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas, which have bills pending for the “Good Samaritan” law.

It’s important to stay up to date on animal protection laws for leaving dogs locked in a hot car, especially during summertime. Heat stroke is not worth the risk.


car heat safety infographic


Watch Steve Dale show how hot cars get and why these laws are so important for saving lives.

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Editor’s note: This post was updated in June 2021 to include the most pup-to-date information.