LYNCHBURG, Va. – UPDATE ( July 9, 2021)
Lynchburg police say the dog they rescued from a vehicle parked in the River Ridge Mall parking lot when temperatures were in the 90s is back with its owner.
Animal control says the owner is facing charges of failure to care for an animal, which is a Class Four misdemeanor.
Since the dog wasn’t hurt, authorities say they couldn’t charge him with animal cruelty or prevent him from reuniting with the dog.
UPDATE ( July 7, 2021)
Lynchburg police said the owner of the dog trapped inside a hot vehicle parked outside River Ridge Monday afternoon has been issued a citation.
Levi Alfred Heaton III was issued a summons by the Lynchburg Police Department for failing to adequately care for a companion animal.
It’s unclear if the dog is still at the Lynchburg Humane Society or was returned to Heaton.
Lynchburg police rescued a dog from a vehicle parked at River Ridge on Monday afternoon when outside temperatures were in the 90s thanks to a call from two Good Samaritans.
“Coming out the movie, walked past the vehicle and the dog barked,” recalled Sharon Dalton. “I looked and was like, ‘Oh no!’”
Dalton and her friend, Camie Carpenter, never imagined a trip to the movies would end in a series of phone calls to the police, but when they spotted a dog inside a car, they knew they had to do something.
“We were just worried to death,” explained Carpenter. “Just coming from the mall, we were already so hot.”
The two tried to get the dog out on their own and even considered breaking the window; however, they ultimately ended up calling for help.
“At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about rights. I was concerned about the dog,” Dalton says. “For somebody to do that, to me, it was cruelty.”
After about an hour, an officer showed up and with the help of mall security, he was able to safely get the dog out and off to the Lynchburg Human Society.
You can only break a car window to save a pet in eight states and Virginia is not one of them as in Virginia, only law enforcement and humane officers can legally break into a car to rescue an animal, according to the Animal Legal & Historical Center.
“I want something to change,” said Carpenter. “I want clarity on our rights and to be able to do whatever needs to be done.”
The Humane Society said these Good Samaritans handled everything right; however, they want to remind you, you’re always better off leaving your pet at home than in a car.
We’re told the dog is still at the Humane Society, but at this point we don’t know whether the owner will get him back or if the dog will go up for adoption.