MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Murfreesboro police officer saved a senior dog who was locked in a car parked outside Walmart.
Police said the dog was seen panting excessively in the back seat of a hatchback while its owners shopped inside the store on July 19.
When the officer arrived in the parking lot, multiple people were standing around the car. The temperature outside was 92 degrees and the dog was inside a vehicle that was not running and had all the windows rolled up.
"When I first arrived, the dog seemed to be okay, but I can tell that it started to get stress," said Officer Benjamin Stamps.
There was no food or water inside the car for the small brown dog.
Stamps asked a Walmart employee to page the car owner inside the store, but after 10 minutes, he made the decision to get into the car using a motorist lock-out kit.
"When I went to check on the dog for the second time I noticed he was starting to pant excessively, and I knew we were moving in to the verge of a heat stroke," Stamps said.
Police said the dog was then put into a car with the air conditioning running and given cold water from a Walmart employee. Stamps took the internal temperature of the vehicle and found it was 124 and 134 degrees inside.
The owners, 63-year-old Thomas Parriott and 58-year-old Carol Parriott, returned to the car 35 minutes after the officer arrived.
Thomas Parriott claimed responsibility for leaving the dog inside the vehicle. He told officers on scene he has problems with short term memory.
Carol and Thomas Parriott were both given a misdemeanor citation for animal cruelty.
Fortunately, the dog was OK and did not require immediate veterinary attention, Stamps says by law the dog was returned to his owners because he didn't suffer from heat stroke.
But Police say you can help, Tennessee law allows people to break into hot cars if an animal is trapped inside without fear of punishment.
"Just because it's not a human being doesn't mean it should be left in the car in the heat," said dog owner Mike Poorman.
According to the 2015 law there are six safeguard requirements.
(1) Determines the vehicle is locked or there is otherwise no reasonable method for the minor or animal to exit the vehicle;
(2) Has a good faith belief that forcible entry into the vehicle is necessary because the minor or animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm if not immediately removed from the vehicle and, based upon the circumstances known to the person at the time, the belief is a reasonable one;
(3) Has contacted either the local law enforcement agency, the fire department, or a 911 operator prior to forcibly entering the vehicle;
(4) Places a notice on the vehicle’s windshield with the person’s contact information, the reason the entry was made, the location of the minor or animal, and the fact that the authorities have been notified; SB0616 002190 -2-
(5) Remains with the minor or animal in a safe location, out of the elements but reasonably close to the vehicle, until law enforcement, fire, or another emergency responder arrives; and
(6) Used no more force to enter the vehicle and remove the child or animal from the vehicle than was necessary under the circumstances.