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A new Colorado law went into effect last month which protects individuals who break into a stranger’s vehicle to save a life – but certain steps must be undertaken to avoid liability or criminal charges. The rescuer must have a reasonable belief that the person or animal is suffering serious bodily harm. Then an attempt must be made to locate the owner of the vehicle or contact law enforcement. As a last resort, the new law allows the rescue by breaking into the vehicle.

In Denver, it is a crime to leave an animal in dangerous conditions, such as a hot car, and could result in a $999 fine or up to a year in jail.

The new law is not restricted to persons of a certain age but applies to any at-risk person. However, the law does specifically consider only the welfare of cats and dogs, not livestock. The new law is not restricted to overheated vehicles, so presumably would also apply to extreme cold conditions as well.