SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — The Sioux City City Council has approved changes to an ordinance that better defines what would be too hot to leave a pet in a vehicle that doesn’t have running air conditioning.

Sioux City Animal Control proposed the ordinance change as the previous ordinance did not specify what “extreme temperatures” were which made it difficult for police and animal control officials to act when an animal is reported to be in a vehicle.

The new ordinance states that animals should not be left in a vehicle or the bed of a parked truck during temperatures that exceed 79 degrees unless said animal is inside of a vehicle with the air conditioning turned on.

It’s also stated that the ordinance would cover temperatures that are too low for an animal to be left in a vehicle though this does not have a specific definition.

The ordinance further states that any peace officer or animal control officer is authorized to use any force needed to remove the animal from the vehicle when the life or health of the animal is in danger. Officers will not be liable for damages caused to the property.

Sergeant Jeremy McClure with the Sioux City Police Department said before they do anything they look to see if the animal is in distress and check the temperature outside.

“Somebody that leaves an animal in a car could potentially face some severe penalties such as fines and other criminal referrals for doing that. In addition to that, the law does protect us from intervening if it need be, breaking out windows or causing damage to the vehicle,” said McClure.

The manager of the Sioux City Animal Adoption and Rescue Center said it’s important to keep your pet safe, even if that means leaving them home alone for a while.

“Unless you’re detouring back from the vent or something like that, there’s no need to take your dog to Walmart on a hot day while you’re shopping, you know just leave the dog at home,” said Chris Wall.

Wall said they have already received a few calls about dogs in vehicles so far this year.