What do you do if you see a dog suffering in a hot car? Well, if you live in Tennessee, you can break that car’s window and save the dog.
As part of the state’s “Good Samaritan law,” people now have the right to break into a car if they see a dog or other animal in danger, News 2-WKRN in Nashville reports.
Under House Bill 537, which went into effect on July 1, specific steps must be taken, including attempting to find the owner and notifying law enforcement.
“If you act reasonably, as any reasonable person would respond, you will not be at fault to save a life,” Mike Franklin of the Nashville Fire Department told News 2. “You will not be at any fault to save a life and or animals.”
This action comes on the heels of a story about a Georgia man who was arrested for breaking a car window to save a dog he believed was in a life-threatening situation. The charges against Michael Hammons, a Desert Storm veteran, were eventually dropped, but not before the story was picked up by media outlets across the country.
Even if it doesn’t seem all that hot out, pets left in cars can quickly become overheated — and die — in a matter of minutes.
“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. Craig Prior of Murphy Road Animal Hospital told News 2.
House Bill 537 is thought to be the first of its kind in the country. Legislators in New York recently proposed a similar bill, which has been referred to the agriculture committee.