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Tennesseans can now smash a car window legally if they see a suffering pet inside

There are very few instances in which we would advocate the smashing up of cars (separate from where they are monster truck fodder or demolition derby participants(, but this is one of them. More and more states are protecting citizens from legal repercussions if they break into a hot car to relieve a trapped dog and Tennessee just joined the list.

NBC News reports that the law is an extension of Tennessee’s existing Good Samaritan law, which protects people from liability for any damage done to a vehicle if it’s done to save a trapped child.

This doesn’t give Tennesseans license to smash car windows as soon as they see a puppy hanging out in a vehicle. The dog has to be “in a state of imminent danger of suffering harm” and those concerned have to try alternative means of entry — checking if the car’s unlocked first- and they have to notify authorities.

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“There is a startling gap between those who state they would act and those who actually did something when faced with the reality of a dog at risk,” said Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. In fact, a recent ASPCA poll showed only 63 percent of people polled who have encountered a dog in a hot car took any sort of action.

Tennessee is now the 16th state with an actual statute in place meant to protect dogs locked in hot cars. Separate from these direct protection law, leaving a dog in a hot car in Tennessee or any other state could still be a violation of the animal cruelty code, landing the owner in legal trouble.

Related: Stray dogs can learn to drive better than your 16-year-old niece

We all know how hot a car can get just sitting in the parking lot, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be on a warm day. Smashed windows and messy legal situations, not to mention public derision (and most importantly, suffering canines) can all be avoided by people showing a little empathy for their furry friends.