KENNEWICK, Wash. - Temperatures are heating up. With that comes fun in the sun, but not when you're an animal inside a hot car.
Over the weekend, Kennewick police officers got a call from a bystander who found a dog locked in a car in a WinCo parking lot. Luckily, police were able to get in the car through a cracked window. The dog drank water and threw up before police got the animal to cool down inside their car.
"Leaving your dog in the car is going to be detrimental to their health because the temperature inside the car raises," said Lt. Aaron Clem with KPD. "With the temperatures 90 and above, it's not going to take very long for that temperature inside the car to reach 113 degrees."
Officers were able to get inside the car because of a window cracked open. Clem says leaving the window cracked isn't going to do anything to reduce the temperature.
While police got in through the window, Clem explained that it's illegal for someone else to break into another person's car.
"Regardless of whether you're trying to save an animal or not, it is still illegal to do that," Clem said.
KAPP-KVEW spoke with people around the Tri-Cities. Most said they would break in after calling 911, despite the consequences.
"If a living thing is in distress in a vehicle, I'll call 911 but I'm breaking into that car," said Sarah Girard. "I'll pay the price later."
"If a dog or a child was in that kind of need then yeah," said Don Curry. "Better than watch something die."
However, you could be criminally charged.
"There are extenuating circumstances where a prosecutor may decide not to charge somebody for damaging a vehicle because you're taking steps to save an animal, or taking steps to save a human in this case," Clem said.
Police urge people to call 911 and while they're heading to the area, there is something you can do to be proactive.
"Go into the store, grab the license plate number, grab the vehicle description," Clem explained. "Have them call on their intercom for the owner of the vehicle to come out."
Many people who KAPP-KVEW spoke to say to simply leave your dog at home.
"They're like humans," said AJ Hoskins. "They're like family, so I don't think they should be left in a hot car."
"Their life is just as important as yours and I find it offensive that you would care enough to get a dog and not take care of it," said Cindy Adams.
The owner of the dog left in the hot car in Kennewick was cited for animal cruelty.