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Would You Break A Car Window to Save A Dog?

I know the answer to this question is YES for most of us.

If a dog was truly in danger, most dog lovers would consider breaking a window to rescue the dog.

However, most of the time, a dog left in the car is not in serious danger.

A story went around recently where a man in Georgia broke a woman’s car window in order to “rescue” a small dog. Here’s a link to one version of the story.

The news stations loved pointing out that the man was a veteran and that (so the story goes) he used a piece of his wife’s wheelchair to break the window.

And even though this man faced charges, he was portrayed as a hero. (Charges were later dropped, but the dog’s owner was cited for leaving her dog in a hot car.)

And then, as usual, all the comments on this story were about how “awful” the dog’s owner was for leaving her dog in the car, even though she claimed she was gone just 5 minutes.

Dog waiting in the car

The dog’s owner is not interviewed in these stories. We do not get to hear her side. Perhaps she chose not to comment, but there is no indication of that in the stories. Instead, she is non-existent. Not pictured. No real mention.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported that PETA is giving the veteran a “Compassionate Action Award.”

Since PETA’s involved, the whole situation is even more sketchy to me.

I’m reminded of this picture I saw floating around on Facebook this week:

Please do not break windows Big Lebowski reference

It summarizes how I feel about dogs in cars.

I leave my dog Ace alone in the car too. Sometimes for 10 or 15 minutes.

I left him in the car last weekend for about 10 minutes while it was 96 degrees outside in the valley. I did not crack the windows at all because it was cooler in the car than outside.

Our car is new and it seems to maintain the temperature fairly well. We parked in the shade. The AC had been blasting for hours.

[quote_right]I would have been pissed off had anyone gone near our car to even think about ‘rescuing’ our dog.[/quote_right]My husband and I went into Subway together to order food. We could’ve taken turns so someone was always with Ace, but we knew this was not necessary.

While standing in line, I could look out the window and see my dog. I knew he would be just fine for that amount of time and he was.

We took our sandwiches to go so we could sit outside and eat them with our dog.

I would have been pissed off had anyone gone near our car to even think about “rescuing” our dog.

Of course, there are dogs that truly do need rescuing when left alone in hot cars. But those examples are rare.

Even if breaking a car window is really a legitimate option, there are still other risks to consider.

Reasons not to break a window to save a dog


  • The glass or force could injure the dog or the person breaking the window.
  • The dog could get loose and get hit by a car or lost.
  • The dog could bite the “rescuer” or someone else.


Plus, it’s not all that easy for most people to break a car window. I don’t even know how I’d go about doing so.

What to do instead of breaking a window:


  • Call local law enforcement.
  • Contact nearby business managers/employees to see if they can track down the dog’s owner.
  • Pour water to the dog if possible.
  • Wait around for 10-15 minutes for the owner, without acting like a psycho when she returns! 🙂


Just because a dog is panting and “distressed” doesn’t mean it truly needs “rescuing.” I’d be more concerned if the dog was breathing heavily but lying on his side & having trouble moving.

A lot of dogs pant all the time just because they’re anxious about life in general, poorly socialized or full of pent-up energy. They don’t need rescuing. They just need exercise.

Consider breaking the window as a last resort, but only after considering the above risks/consequences.

Did you hear about the story with the veteran breaking a car window? What did you think about that story?

Have you ever had to save a dog from a hot car?

Related posts:

Do you leave your dog in the car for 10 minutes?

How long can my dog be in a hot car?

Florida police K9s die in hot car

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