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It’s a shame that every summer brings a new slew of “people rescuing dogs trapped in hot cars” stories. (Though one recent one has a nice coda – a Georgia woman dropped charges against the Desert Storm veteran who broke her car window to get her dog out of the car on an 80-degree day.)

But starting this month, an extension to Tennessee’s “Good Samaritan law” that allows people to break into cars to save children makes it legal to do the same for animals. Specific steps, including searching for the owner and notifying law enforcement, must be taken to qualify for protection under the law.

“If you act reasonably, as any reasonable person would respond, you will not be at fault to save a life. You will not be at any fault to save a life and/or animals,” Nashville Fire Department Chief of Staff Mike Franklin told Nashville ABC affiliate WKRN.

The Humane Society cautions that on an 85-degree day, temperatures inside a car – even with its windows slightly opened – can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes, and 120 degrees after 30 minutes.

16 states have laws on the books prohibiting keeping an animal in an unattended car.

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