Verify: Is it legal to free dogs locked in hot cars?

Is it legal to free dogs locked in hot cars?

A post spreading on social media claims if you see a dog locked in a hot car, it is legal to break the window to free the animal.

It makes sense to dog lovers out there, but is it true?

The message is known as a "copypasta," which is online slang for a body of text that has been copied and pasted from somewhere else. This particular "copypasta" gives step-by-step instructions on how to avoid criminal charges when breaking into cars to rescue animals during hot weather days.

"The police are now saying if you see a dog locked in a car in hot weather, take a picture of the dog and the car," the post reads. "If someone is with you, get them to bring up the weather for your area on the phone so you can screen shot the temp, then break the car window. This way, you will not be charged with criminal damage and it gives the police photo evidence to take the dog owners to court."

A total of 24 states have laws that regulate leaving animals alone in parked cars. Among those states, they have laws that either prohibit it or provide protection to someone who rescues the animal under certain conditions.

But is Arkansas one of the 24 states that has a law on dogs in hot cars? We asked Lieutenant Steve McClanahan with the Little Rock Police Department what people should do if they find a dog in a locked car with the windows up.

"We do have a cruelty to animal statue, however if you do see an animal in a locked car and it's hot or extreme conditions, the key thing I want people to do is to have just use good, common sense," McClanahan said, "but before you do anything, no matter what action you take, I would go ahead and call 911."

In 2016, the Hot Springs Police Department responded to the body of text, backing up McClanahan's statement that you should contact authorities if there is an issue.

So, while there is no law clarifying how to react to such a situation in Arkansas, at least 24 states have defined what to do if you find a dog trapped in a locked car during hot weather.

VERIFY: Sources

Snopes

VERIFY: Resources

Lieutenant Steve McClanahan, Little Rock Police Department

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