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Can I smash a car window if I’m concerned for a dog?


Leaving your dog in a car

With very hot temperatures over the past few summers, the issue of leaving dogs in car is pushed to the forefront again. People understandably become concerned for a dog if it left in a car on a hot day, and may are unsure what it is they can do without falling foul of the law.

Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act places a duty of care on people to ensure they take reasonable steps in all circumstances to meet the welfare needs of their animals to the extent required by good practice.

In short it means they must take positive steps to ensure they care for their animals properly and in particular must provide for the five welfare needs, which are:

  • need for a suitable environment
  • need for a suitable diet
  • need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals
  • need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Despite this, people still leave dogs in cars whilst shopping and members of the public are forced to intervene.

RSPCA Statement

A statement on the RSPCA website reads: “Never leave your dog alone in a car on a warm day. If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, dial 999.

“Many people still believe that it’s ok to leave a dog in a car on a warm day if the windows are left open or they’re parked in the shade, but the truth is, it’s still a very dangerous situation for the dog.

“A car can become as hot as an oven very quickly, even when it doesn’t feel that warm. When it’s 22 degrees, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour.”


According to the RSPCA if it is an emergency and the animal is displaying signs of heatstroke such as heavy panting, drooling excessively or is collapsed, you should call 999 immediately.

While your instinct might be to smash a window and break into the car, without proper justification, this could be classed as committing criminal damage.

It’s advised that if you are concerned for a dog, you should inform police of your intentions and take photos or footage of the dog as well as the names and contact details of witnesses.

The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit criminal damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances.

If the dog is not displaying signs of heatstroke, establish how long the dog has been in the car and make a note of the registration. If you are at a public event or venue ask a member of staff to make an announcement of the situation over the tannoy, if possible, and get someone to stay with the dog to monitor its condition.

Criminal Damage

Criminal Damage Act 1971 Section 1(1) states A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

The argument, potentially is that you would have a lawful excuse to cause the damage however it would assist any argument if you followed the guidelines provided by the RSPCA above.

Our office dog Stan, is safely at home relaxing on the cold floor tiles. Remember no dog ever died from missing a walk, so if it is too hot, keep them in and look after your pooch friends!

For any issues regarding Police investigation or Criminal Charges you can contact a member of our Crime Team on 0151 480 5777. or fill out the form on our crime page and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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