San Antonio City Council is considering a “Good Samaritan” ordinance that would protect people that break into cars to save children or pets.
On Wednesday, city council voted to move forward with a study for the ordinance proposed by Councilman Greg Brockhouse.
"Right now, we don’t have those protections in the City of San Antonio," Councilman Brockhouse said. "It’s a Good Samaritan ordinance. We don’t know what it will look like [yet, but] this isn’t going to be ‘vigilanteville’ where people are gonna be running around all over town breaking into windows because they have a pet in a vehicle. So we have to be very careful, we have to be very deliberate. So I think how we deal with this pet issue in San Antonio is huge."
Councilman Brockhouse added that his office started looking into the issue of pets left in hot cars or freezing temperatures months ago, launching a study into the problem. His office found that while police are able to break into a car if they feel an animal or person is in danger, there are some cases where citizens could get into trouble.
"We’re going to protect their property, but we do want to protect children and pets and think about a family member or pet in 105-degree heat, in a sweltering car, before that person or pet loses their life," Councilman Brockhouse said. "We should have Good Samaritan protections in place both for children and people, and for pets."
Governance members unanimously voted to send the proposal to a public safety committee, which will look into the creation of an ordinance. There is still work to be done before the ordinance is completed or could take effect.
Until then, here's what the San Antonio Police Department advises:
"There is a point where breaking someone’s vehicle window can become a criminal act. Therefore, we encourage anyone who feels it necessary to break a window to please call 9-1-1, record the breaking of the window on their phone, and wait for police to arrive to provide them your statement and video evidence of what you deemed necessary to do. Ultimately, if someone is in danger, you must use your best judgment and practice but be able to provide evidence of your necessary action.”