An Ohio man has been charged with criminal damaging after breaking into a car to rescue two dogs locked inside the vehicle.
According to the Associated Press, Richard Hill smashed the window of a stationary car in the parking lot of Parma in Cleveland when he saw two dogs left inside the vehicle. Hill called the police before breaking the car window, following the protocol of Senate Bill 215, which protects Good Samaritans in similar situations. Despite this, Hill still received a citation charging him with criminal damaging.
Senate Bill 215 only takes effect when the Good Samaritan in question can prove that the child or pet left in the vehicle is in danger. It seems that Hill could not prove an immediate danger to the pets left in the car before he broke the window.
Hill gave an account of his attempted rescue via Facebook. In his post, Hill states that one of the dogs left in the car looked to be a puppy that was 2- or 3-months-old. Other people including himself had noticed that the pup didn't seem to be moving. After hearing another bystander call the police, Hill decided to break the car window with a hammer he had in the back of his truck because he believed that the dogs had been left in the car for at least 30 minutes and needed to be rescued immediately.
It turns out that Hill's time estimate was wrong. Surveillance video of the car in the parking lot recorded the whole scene and revealed that the owners of the dog had only been gone for 4 minutes before Hill broke the car window. The police arrived 4 minutes after receiving the 911 call, just a couple minutes before Hill smashed the car window. People adds that the owner of the pets and the vehicle arrived at the scene after spending only 14 minutes inside the store.
Despite the charges put against Hill, the police seem to understand why Hill smashed the car window. In fact, Police Sgt. Dan Ciryak stated that he believed Hill's heart was in the right place, but softly admonished the dog rescuer adding that he should have waited a little longer before breaking the window. For his part, Hill does not regret breaking the window and letting the dogs out.
Based on a GoFundMe campaign Hill started to pay for his court hearing, the general public seems conflicted by the situation. Some believe Hill may have reacted to the situation without adequately assessing it. Others have made donations to his GoFundMe campaign, supporting his decision to rescue the dogs.