UPDATE: Several Dogs Found Dead in Parked Car at Wal-Mart

UPDATE: Tuesday, May 21, 6:30 p.m.

We asked our viewers on facebook and twitter what they would do in this situation.

Many of you felt strongly about forcing your way into a car to rescue the dogs, but there are legal ramifications.

Attorney Ben Irwin of Cherry & Irwin said you could face criminal charges, like criminal mischief or vandalism.
You could also be civilly liable for any damages.

Irwin advises you to first call police and then notify store managers and employees.

UPDATE: Tuesday, May 21, 9 a.m.

Dothan Police Sgt. Adrianne Woodruff, the administrator of the Dothan Animal Shelter, said there were five dogs left inside of the car parked at Southside Wal-Mart Tuesday.

Four dogs died before the owner returned to the car. The fifth dog had to be euthanized after seeing a veterinarian Tuesday evening.

According to Wal-Mart's surveillance video the dogs were left inside the car for close to three hours.

Charges against the owner are pending.

Dothan police are investigating what could be an animal cruelty case.

Authorities say several dogs were left in a parked car Tuesday afternoon at Southside Wal-Mart and died.

Kaylee Smith said she was walking through the parking when she saw a commotion at a car.

“From what I saw people came and she was saying her dogs are dead and people started pulling out dogs. I know 3 for sure were dead. Then another was inside barely breathing. They were so overheated,” said Smith.

Smith and other witnesses say the owner claims to have left the car running with the air conditioning on. But while she was inside she says ---the dogs switched the heat on.

“I hated it because this happens more than you think. Just because you leave the air on, this is a good example those dogs could turn the ac off. Somehow flip the switch to the heaters. It's awful,” said Smith.

Smith hopes their deaths serve as a warning to other dog owners.

“Don't leave your animals in the car. You wouldn't leave your 3 or 4 year old in the car. You can’t do that with dog either, especially puppies. They can't fend for themselves especially when you don't leave a window down for them,” said Smith.

And even if you do leave a window down, Experts say to never leave your pets alone inside a parked car.
Even on a 78 degree day in direct sunlight the temperature inside the car can rise up to 120 degrees in just minutes. On a 90 degree day it can reach as high 160 degrees.

A dog can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes.

And although no one has been charged at this time...

Under Alabama law, cruelty to animals is when someone recklessly or with criminal negligence mistreats, neglects, or kills or injures without good cause.

It is a Class A misdemeanor.

If charged and convicted, the dogs' owner could face a year in jail and a fine of $3,000.

However, aggravated cruelty to animals is when someone intentionally harms the animal.

It is a Class C Felony.

If charged and convicted, the dogs' owner could face 10 years in prison and a fine of $6,000.

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