Little Rock officials want to set temperature guidelines and other conditions that would allow an officer to enter a vehicle and remove an animal during extreme weather.
City code already prohibits keeping an animal in a vehicle to the point it becomes distressed during hot or cold weather, but the code doesn't give distinct guidelines for determining what conditions are dangerous.
An ordinance before the city Board of Directors would make it illegal to confine an animal in an unattended vehicle or truck bed when the outside temperature is at least 70 degrees or higher, or 30 degrees or lower, if the animal is showing signs of distress.
"The American Veterinary Medical Association published information, courtesy of the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University, to show that a vehicle's interior temperature can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 minutes when the outside ambient temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and that a vehicle's interior temperature can reach 120 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit in less than one hour when the outside ambient temperature is 70 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit," the ordinance states.
The amended rules would apply regardless of whether a window is left rolled down to let air into the vehicle.
Without air conditioning or adequate ventilation to maintain an interior temperature between 30 and 90 degrees, emergency personnel could enter the vehicle if an animal is showing signs of distress.
An animal control officer, code enforcement officer, police officer or other emergency worker would have the authority under the updated ordinance to enter the vehicle "by any means reasonable."
The officer must first attempt to locate the owner of the vehicle or someone who has access to it, the new ordinance states. If an animal is taken from a vehicle, the animal will be impounded and "a reasonable effort shall be made to contact the owner."
Ward 7 City Director B.J. Wyrick asked whether the ordinance would apply to only pets or if livestock would be included.
Animal Services Division Manager Tracy Roark said all animals would be dealt with the same.
"We've not received, as far as I can remember, any calls on livestock in 10 years. So I'm assuming we won't unless someone pulls in a parking lot and just lets them sit for a long period of time and [someone] calls us," Roark said. "Then we will have to make a determination at that time.
"I think the focus of this is animals that are in cars with the windows mainly rolled up with the sun beating down on them, so we can address that situation quickly."
Ward 5 City Director Lance Hines said he goes duck hunting with his dog, and he was worried about hunters who keep dogs kenneled in the back of a truck.
City Attorney Tom Carpenter clarified that the ordinance only applies if an animal is in distress.
"Where the city becomes involved is if [a vehicle is] stopped someplace in the city in the extreme temperatures and there is an animal in distress. It is not just temperature-based in that situation," Carpenter said.
He said he was working to amend the ordinance further to define signs of distress before the board votes on it Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Metro on 09/18/2017