LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - On Tuesday, September 19, the Little Rock Board of Directors will vote whether to approve proposed ordinance changes that identify exactly what rights animal control officers have when it comes to animals being left in hot or cold cars.
Ward 4 City Director Capi Peck is bringing forward the proposed changes because she said say current ordinances are not specific enough. The issue is also personal to her.
“About a decade ago, I actually lost an animal to a heat related incident,” she said. “It wasn’t in a vehicle, but I know how sensitive animals can be.”
Her proposal would allow animal service officers, firefighters, EMS crews, and police to enter a car and remove an animal that is in distress.
The changes would allow removal any animal left in a car or in the bed of a truck when it's above 70 degrees outside or below 30 degrees outside. While 70 degrees might seem like a comfortable temperature, it can still be fatal because the temperature inside the car is more extreme.
Tracy Roark with the Little Rock Animal Village said when it is 70 degrees outside and the car is in the sun, the inside of the car can increase to 110 degrees within an hour inside that car.
He said the ordinance is the way to protect officers who need to take action for animals in harm's way. They can quickly respond to all calls and use a temperature gauge that will tell them exactly what the temperature is inside the car.
Roark also hopes that by clarifying the ordinance, people will feel more comfortable calling for help if they see an animal in a car. He said calling can save a life.
“An animal in distress is often panting heavily, will look dehydrated, may be moving slow, or shaking,” said Roark. “You can just tell when an animal is not doing okay.”
He recommends calling 311, animal control, or in severe cases, 911, if you see an animal inside a car in hot or cold temperatures.
Anyone who leaves an animal in a hot or cold car is subject to fines and potentials criminal charges.
The vote next Tuesday will amend Little Rock's Revised Code of Ordinances (1988) Chapter 6, Article 1.