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Indiana Law: No Jail For Breaking Into Car To Rescue Pet; But Pay Up

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A new law in Indiana would protect Good Samaritans from prosecution if they break into a hot car to rescue a trapped pet, but those people would still have to help foot the bill for any repairs.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the legislation on Monday.

It means, starting July 1, anyone who breaks into a locked vehicle to remove a pet if they reasonably believe the animal "is in imminent danger of suffering serious bodily harm" would be immune from criminal penalties.

However, as a compromise, that person still would be responsible for half the cost of repairing the damage they cause to the vehicle. Lawmakers said that provision was added to prevent people from breaking into a car to steal something.

"The overzealous, the person who might use it as a defense to break and enter a car to steal, to thieve; those were the type of things that they were interested in and concerned about trying to avert," Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) said.

Someone who breaks into a hot car to rescue a trapped pet would not have to pay for any damage if the owner agrees to cover the costs.

The law requires force be necessary to enter the vehicle, that someone call 911 or otherwise try to contact police or another emergency responder before breaking into a vehicle, that the person uses no more force than necessary, and remains with the pet until police or other emergency personnel arrive.

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