Chicago Cops Will Be Able To Break Car Windows To Rescue Overheated Pets

The city approved an ordinance that allows animal control and police officers to save pets from hot cars.

Pets do a lot for their owners. From helping owners get through breakups to providing comfort to those who need it. The city of Chicago is now taking steps to return the favor by approving an ordinance to help protect them as the warmer months of the year approach. As noted by local news station WGN9, the interior of a vehicle can get as many as 20 degrees hotter than the temperature outside — putting pets left behind at risk.

Last year, Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas, who represents the city's 36th ward, proposed an ordinance that would fine citizens who left pets in motor vehicles — placing them in a health- or life-threatening situation by exposing them to extreme heat or cold — up to $1,000. While that ordinance didn't get passed, as reported by The Chicago Sun-Times, the city council's finance committee recently approved a more watered-down version that would allow animal control and police officers to "enter a motor vehicle by any reasonable means under the circumstances" when a pet is locked inside. This means that, after trying to contact the owner of the vehicle to no avail, officers would be allowed to break the windows of a car to rescue the suffering pets.

Villegas, an animal lover, mentioned the passing of the ordinance on Facebook, writing, "Finally made some progress to protect our best friends. More work is necessary, but this is a good first step."

The ordinance was also met with praise from another Chicago alderman, Ray Lopez of the city's 15th ward. However, though he was happy about the ordinance's passing, he wished that it went further and allowed everyday citizens to rescue the animals themselves with little to no liability.

"[Animal Care and Control] resources are stretched. Our police officers are oftentimes responding to things more pressing than a dog in a car," he said. "Having the opportunity to allow our citizens to save lives on their own of the four-legged variety would be a great step for moving Chicago and the state in the right direction."

Lopez also made it clear that, if need be, he'd still do what he had to do to save a four-legged friend. 

"I'm all for breaking windows to save animals. A hundred percent…," he told the Sun-Times. "Even though the law says I have to wait for police and Animal Care, if I see a dog in a car dying, I'm gonna break the window myself. Illinois should have a law that shields from civil liability, individuals who see an animal in distress and take action."

Cover image via Ivan Kacarov / Shutterstock.

(H/T: Chicago Sun-Times)

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