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Should you break into a car to ‘rescue’ dog on hot day? Auburn police say no

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AUBURN — With temperatures in the upper 80s, police continue to respond to calls of animals being left in hot cars. This weekend, a Good Samaritan tried to rescue a dog left in a SUV in an Auburn shopping center. But now, she could face charges of malicious mischief.

Jeff Linnell was filming when a woman broke into a Chevrolet Suburban Saturday afternoon, trying to help a dog that was locked inside.

“The dog had been whimpering and then just stopped,” Linnell said Monday. “We couldn’t really see the dog because it was blacked out windows, or really dark windows. “

Linnell and his wife said temperatures were in the high 80s, and the vehicle’s windows were only cracked a couple inches. They tried to have the owners paged at the nearby Sam’s Club. When they got tired of waiting, they called 911.

“You and I can open a window or climb out or get a drink of water. That dog was locked in a carry kennel, inside a closed vehicle with windows barely open.”

Just minutes after the window was broken, an Auburn police officer showed up. The Good Samaritan admitted what happened.

“Write me a ticket and let the dog out,” she said.

Police said the dog did not appear to be in immediate distress, although Linnell took a picture of the dog with his tongue sticking out. He said that tells a different story.

It will now be up to prosecutors to decide whether the Good Samaritan broke the law by breaking a stranger’s windows.

“No one is telling us this is the right thing to do, this is the wrong thing,” Linnell said. “If we had known exactly what the law was, we probably would have waited. Or I would have told the lady it's against the law, you really shouldn't do that.”

Prosecutors will also determine whether the dog’s owners were guilty of animal cruelty.

“How could you possibly leave your dog inside a closed vehicle and be OK with that?" Linnell asked. "I could see on a 40-degree day, but on an 86-degree day? It's a life, it's terrible.”

Police say they will respond to calls about animals being left in cars, and so will animal control. They say it’s better for them to respond because they may be able to gain access to a car without breaking a window.

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  • Shepherdsgirl

    The story doesn’t state how long the dog might have been in the car. Studies on temperatures in cars have been conducted with startling finds.

    On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 102 degrees within only ten minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. At 110 degrees, pets are in danger of heatstroke. On hot and humid days, the temperature in a car parked in direct sunlight can rise more than 30 degrees per minute, and quickly become lethal.

    Good job to those good Samaritans, I hope the Prosecutor is better informed. We need more education on things like this, people don’t think sometimes, and some are totally uneducated on matters like this.

    • Jeff

      the dog was in the car for 45 minutes before police arrived and to Sean people are leaving kids and elderly in cars so which life is more important? all life has value!

  • jill

    Good for them! Sure, call 911, but how long can a person wait. Any SANE person would agree, who cares what the repercussions are, it’s worth it. This story makes me want to make sure I have a good tool for breaking a window in an emergency. Anyone who would leave an animal or child in a car on a hot day is a criminal and should be subject to the same conditions to see how it feels.

  • Cindy Wetzel

    I WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING, PERIOD. Shame on the dog’s owner and I pity the clerks and judge if she was issued a citation-that courtroom will be packed with supporters!

  • cherie

    they should ticket the IDIOT that left their dog in the car….. are ppl really that stupid????? last year I came across a dog in a hot car in the ROSS parking lot on 38th st. in Tacoma…. I went inside the store ( with the lic #)and ask management if they could get on their loud speaker and call the owner….. management said NO!!!!!! so, I called animal control and they came out….. needless to say, I WILL NEVER SHOP AT ROSS’S AGAIN…

    • Monkie Bader

      Sean your heartless son-of-bitch it sounds like if your ever to find a woman tell her how you feel about dogs being left in cars on hot days and see how fast your single again, oh and prostitutes and blow up dolls dont count. Your just a piece of shit dude plain and simple.

  • The World is Ending

    My dog begs to go all the time, but she is safer at home so unless I am taking he someplace like the park she stays home, and when she dose go I always take food and water.

  • Lane Wilkins

    A perfect example of why I have extremely little respect for our justice system and police,most people think I am irrational for disliking police,well when they say thing like do not break the window to save a life that is suffering and they shoot family pets on a daily basis,and they threaten criminal charges to a good Samaritan that stops for ducks crossing the road or breaking a car window is when the police have crossed the line and us public MUST disregard them and their unjust ridiculous laws!!!

    • John

      You are an idiot. Bottom like is the person destroyed someone’s property. The police have to refer that case to prosecutors. Like the article said, the case of animal cruelty will also be forwarded. Police done make laws, they just enforce them.

  • Voice of reason

    It looks like the dog has water in the kennel…everyone seems to want to take the law into their own hands now a days

        • Bambi O'Donnell

          Lets use reason here. If the temp outside was in the mid 80’s that means the temp inside the car was upwards of 120. If the water was cold when it was left that water is also now hot. Now imagine yourself being trapped inside a hot car with nothing but hot water wearing a fur coat. I would’ve broken the window too. Dog, child, elderly person, doesn’t matter to me. All life matters. And the only one who said the dog didn’t appear to be in distress was the officer who arrived AFTER the dog was rescued. Had she not rescued the dog it easily could have been too late for the dog. Responsible pet owners and parents don’t do this.

          • John

            Have a feeling there are some US service members that would say that the dog was probably fine. 120 degree heat in steel boxes in a desert.

          • Voice of reason

            Actually if you watch the video, the police officer is the one who got the dog out of the car, therefor he would be able to tell if the dog was in distress or not. It even says in the article that she said ‘just write me a ticket and get the dog out’ so all she did was break the window but did not rescue the dog.

  • Pamela Hunter

    my daughter and I were at Sam’s Club the day this all happened we pulled up parked our car and noticed these people standing outside their SUV taking pictures of their broken window. the comments i have read here said the dog was in the car for 45 minutes I find that very hard to believe judging by the amount of shopping bags that these people and their children have it in their hands from many different stores inside the mall they were shopping for longer than 45 minutes unless they are power shoppers..

  • Jason

    Everyone seems to miss the fact that the windows were down a little. If someone did this to my vehicle I would bust out their teeth. Mind your own business.

  • Claire

    People are crazy. I raise protection dogs. I leave them in my car with windows slightly cracked while going into a store. Yes, it’s hot. No, I’m not going to let someone else’s dog I’m training die in my car. However, they are trained to bite intruders (ie if you stick your hand or arm into my car, they will bite you and not let go). If you break my window, you WILL get bit. Plus the legal charges you’ll be facing for destructing my property. Anyone have an issue?

  • Janis

    My dog loves to go for a ride vs staying at home. In fact I have to bribe him with treats to get him out if I park in the driveway instead of pulling into the garage because he thinks I am going to leave again. However, the car is running with the air/heat on (depending on season). If anyone broke into his domain, he would likely bite them. I hope their is a law that protects my dog if some “Good Samaritan” breaks into his comfortable environment, gets what they deserve, and then expects me to put him down for being “vicious”. I understand the point in a dangerous situation, but not everyone is smart enough to evaluate the situation.