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New pet law is a good one
- Lisa Hobbs
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I’m happy about the new law in Tennessee that allows people to break into hot cars if an animal is trapped inside – without fear of punishment. I, for one, am sick of hearing about people bringing their animals with them to the store or restaurant and walking off, leaving their animal inside to smother in the heat of a parked car.
The law, which went into effect July 1, extends the state's Good Samaritan law from including just kids to pets too. It protects individuals from civil liability for any damages caused while trying to rescue a child or an animal in danger. Of course, steps must be taken to ensure the car is locked, that the child or animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm if not immediately removed and notifying law enforcement.
I’ve written a column asking people to stop taking their pets with them and leaving them in a hot car to suffer while they are off doing whatever – eating at a restaurant, shopping in a store, visiting friends. I don’t care what you are doing. Using a car as a pet sitter isn’t OK in my book.
Even with the window cracked, the temperatures inside a parked car on a 78-degree day can reach 160 degrees within only a few minutes. Yet, people still think cracking a window is effective on a day when the temperatures are into the 90s.
If you know you’re going to be patronizing a local business, do your animal a favor and leave it at home.
If it’s good enough for your animal, then it’s good enough for you. Sit in your car, leaving just a crack in the window for ventilation, for 30 to 45 minutes – the approximate time it takes to go shopping or out to eat. Maybe if you feel what you’re putting your animal through, you would stop being so cruel.
I’ve found over the years that asking some people to be responsible pet owners is a waste of time. I had one neighbor who consistently allowed their dog to defecate in my yard. Although I hadn’t seen the dog in the act of, I knew it was their dog because it didn’t start happening until they moved in.
I asked them to stop. It continued to happen. I woke early one morning and their son had their leashed dog in my yard allowing it to relieve itself. I was shocked. I told him to not walk their dog into my yard anymore.
He said if it uses the bathroom in their yard, his parents get angry. True story.
As long as there are pet owners willing to risk their animal’s life in a parked car, we need laws to protect Good Samaritans willing to step up and bust a window out – following the stipulation in the new law that requires due diligence beforehand.
Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at