A New Mexico man took matters into his own hands and smashed a window to rescue a distressed dog trapped inside a hot car.
Gerasimos Klonis and his girlfriend were leaving lunch at a NE Albuquerque restaurant when they heard sniffing and scratching noises coming from a car in the parking lot. When Klonis got closer, he discovered the noises were coming from a dog trapped in a hot car.
“The dog is sticking its snout out of a one to two-inch crack trying to breathe,” he told KOB4. “It was obviously struggling to breathe.”
Faced with a dilemma – to break the window and rescue the dog on his own or wait for law enforcement – Klonis called 911 to report the distressed dog. After ten minutes, he called again. When ten more minutes passed, he asked his girlfriend to record video while he smashed the window with a crowbar and rescued the dog on his own.
After removing the dog and walking him into the shade, the pup enthusiastically lapped up water from a bottle offered by Klonis.
“The longer I waited the more I was thinking about this moral dilemma to myself the more the answer became obvious to me because the dog was in clear distress,” he said.
Shortly after breaking the window, the dog’s owner, police, and animal welfare officials arrived. Although the dog was wearing a service dog vest, the owner told police he wasn’t sure if the animal was allowed inside the restaurant, so he’d left him in the car with a window cracked open about 1-2 inches.
Klonis knew he’d done the right thing morally, but was afraid he’d be in trouble for smashing the window.
On the contrary, the dog’s owner was charged with animal cruelty and Klonis was hailed a hero for saving a life. In New Mexico, it is legal to rescue an animal or child trapped in a hot car. The good Samaritan needed stitches and a tetanus shot after the incident.
The dog was not removed from the owner’s care as it was reportedly a service dog.
While 28 states have enacted laws that specifically prohibit leaving dogs in hot cars, most prohibit good Samaritans from taking measures to free a trapped dog. Only 11 states have granted legal right to citizens to use any means necessary (yes, that includes smashing a window) to save a distressed dog. Learn YOUR state laws regarding dogs in hot cars here.