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New Tennessee Law Allows Strangers to Rescue Dogs in Hot Cars

In the summer, it is an unfortunately common sight: to see a dog panting inside a hot car without the windows open, with no pet parent around. This is incredibly dangerous to a dog's health and can put his life at risk. Luckily, the state of Tennessee is not going to put up with it. The Volunteer State is living up to its nickname and allowing concerned good Samaritans to rescue unattended dogs they see inside of cars.

In the past, this has not been the case. People who attempted to help overheated dogs in cars have actually been punished for trying to rescue the dogs. While some people may just be verbally assaulted by the owner of the car, others have decided to take the rescuers to court and have won.

A common problem

In May 2015, a Georgia man named Michael Hammons was walking through a parking lot when he noticed a dog panting heavily in a car with the windows up. Hammons, a Desert Storm veteran, knew the effects of heat on anyone, dog or human. So he decided to take matters into his own hands to save the dog.

"I've got PTSD, and I've seen enough death and destruction," Hammons said to WXIA. "And I didn't want anything else to happen if I could prevent it."

Hammons was arrested for breaking into the car and shattering the window. The punishment caused a lot of controversy, as people took sides to defend whether his actions were right or wrong. Some said he went too far, while others thought he did the right thing.

Residents of Tennessee will not have to worry about situations like this happening to them anymore. If they see a dog trapped in a car, they now have the right to rescue that dog, and will not be punished if damage is done during the process.

Making necessary changes

The law was already in existence. Before the recent ruling, the Good Samaritan law allowed strangers to rescue overheated children from locked cars without criminal charges. Now the law has simply been extended to canines. However, that does not mean people can begin to break into other people's cars.

If a person sees that a dog is overheating in a car with no fresh air, he or she must attempt to locate the pet parent first as well as contact authorities. If that person simply rushes to the car and attempt to save the dog, there could be consequences for not following the rules.

Yet authorities are definitely on the side of those just trying to save lives, according to Chief of Staff for the Nashville Fire Department Mike Franklin.

"If you act reasonably, as any reasonable person would respond, you will not be at fault to save a life. You will not be at any fault to save a life and or animals," he said.

Even if a car has the windows slightly open, it can get pretty hot. This heat can be so extreme that some, such as Dr. Craig Prior, have compared it to sitting in an oven. He noted that some dogs could die from this heat in a short 10 minutes.

Luckily, this law now may be able to protect dogs from these dangers and keep them cooler to boot.

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Posted on Jul 20, 2015 by VOYCE Behind the Scenes