SAN DIEGO - A homeless woman could face criminal charges after leaving her two Chihuahuas in her Ford Mustang for more than three hours Thursday.
San Diego County Department of Animal Services officials eventually rescued the dogs by shattering one of the car's windows.
Several East Village residents contacted 10News after they were told by San Diego police they were not allowed to shatter the windows to rescue the two dogs.
"I was very angry. I was sad that these little Chihuahuas might not make it," said witness Sherry Moore, who told 10News the dogs were in the car for at least three hours.
Neighbors called police and Department of Animal Services to report the dogs. However, even an Animal Services officer said she couldn't break the window unless the dogs were visibly in distress.
"I was so upset that we're all just sitting around waiting for them to get into distress," said Moore.
The Animal Services officer eventually broke one of the windows when she couldn't see one of the small dogs.
"We are looking at possible criminal action for animal control aspects for leaving the dogs in the vehicle," said Animal Services Deputy Director Dan DeSousa.
DeSousa said a new law in 2017 would allow people to break a window to rescue an animal under at least two conditions: the animal is visibly in distress and they called authorities first.
"They need to make that attempt before they enter the vehicle," said DeSousa.
Neighbors said the woman who owns the car is homeless and lives inside the car with her son and the two dogs.
"That's no excuse. I mean, was the son left in the car? No," said DeSousa.
"You cannot leave animals in the car. They can't even speak for themselves," said Moore.