Should police have cited an Ohio man for smashing open the window of a parked car to let out a pair of dogs inside?
Richard Hill told Cleveland.com that he was only acting to save the dogs — including a puppy — when he saw the car parked outside a Walmart in Parma, Ohio.
But Sgt. Dan Ciryak said authorities cited the man for criminal damage because it didn’t appear to be “a matter of life and death” for the pups.
“We believe his heart may have been in the right place, but he should have waited a little more,” Ciryak told Cleveland.com. “He knew the police were coming. I don’t know what his sense of urgency was.”
He told Fox8 that it was around 78 degrees on Saturday, when the incident occurred.
Under Ohio law, a person can legally break into a hot car to save a child or dog if they check for a locked door, call 911 and believe that they must act swiftly because it is an emergency, as noted by NBC4.
In an interview with WKYC, Hill said he exited the Walmart and saw people huddled around a car with two dogs inside at 4 p.m.
As one person called 911 and another looked for the dogs’ owner inside Walmart, Hill told Fox8 that he grew increasingly nervous about the small puppy, which he said was barely moving. Hill, a contractor, used a hammer to break open the window and release the dogs.
According to Fox8, police say they arrived to the car just four minutes after someone called 911.
“I wanted to get that puppy out of there and make sure that he was okay,” Hill told the TV station.
Surveillance footage shows that the dogs were left alone in the car for less than 10 minutes, WKYC reported.
Hill said he “got the ticket right then and there” for criminal damaging, according to ABC. The owner of the dogs, Carly Hartman, did not receive any citations, as reported by Cleveland.com.
Hartman told Fox8 that she “would never put (her dogs) in danger.” She added that her 2018 Audi, which police say had its sunroof open while she went inside the store, is no longer drivable because of the broken passenger window.
Still, Hill said he would do it all over again. He told ABC that he “just wanted to help (the) dogs.”
“I would have done everything the same,” he told ABC. “The only (different) thing I know I would end up doing is, I would actually take picture or video to fully cover all my bases, if something like this was to arrive I have all the evidence myself because now they are stating that the sun roof was wide open.”
Asked about the citation, Ciryak empathized with the car owner.
“What do you say to the victim?” he told Fox8. “She went in to buy one item. It’s not like she came out with a cart full of items.”