New Tenn. law allows good Samaritans to save dogs from hot cars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Chances are you’ve seen it; a dog in a car on a hot day with its owner nowhere in sight.

It happened to a Georgia man, and when he tried to save the dog its owner was furious. The move landed him behind bars.

Animal owner Dawn Hesse remembers seeing the story on the news.

“I was very displeased to hear he was arrested for trying to help an animal,” said Hesse, who has two dogs.

Dogs in hot cars law
At Murphy Road Animal Hospital, Dr. Craig Prior told News 2 animals can die quickly in a hot car.

Starting July 1, if you see an animal trapped in hot car in Tennessee, you can save it. It is an extension of the good Samaritan law that allows people to break into a hot car if a child is trapped inside.

The measure protects people from civil liability if they damage a car while trying to rescue an animal in danger.

Specific steps must be taken, including attempting to find the owner and notifying law enforcement.

Chief of Staff for the Nashville Fire Department Mike Franklin explained.

“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.

At Murphy Road Animal Hospital, Dr. Craig Prior told News 2 animals can die quickly in a hot car.

“You put a pet in a car or a child in a car and you have the windows up and it’s like an oven, and they can die in 10 minutes,” Dr Prior noted.

Hesse told News 2 if she sees an animal trapped in a hot car, she knows what she will do.

“I would hammer, my purse, whatever it took, keys, I would definitely get into a car and help an animal,” she said.

The Humane Society warns that on a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120 degrees even with the windows slightly open.

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