GASTONIA, N.C. — A Facebook post from a Gaston County woman over the weekend sparked debate on what to do if someone spots a dog, by itself, in a hot car.

Bobbi Parton said a friend sent her photos Sunday afternoon of what she described as a dog left in a car outside the Walmart off East Franklin Boulevard.

She said the car's windows were cracked open while the temperature outside was in the mid-90's.

Parton, who has 20 years of experience with pet boarding, said her friend called 911 after she saw the dog.

"This is not a new problem so it's really frustrating and hard to understand why it still happens," Parton said.

Parton posted her friend's photos to Facebook as a public service announcement; many people commented that her friend should have smashed the window to help the dog.

But like leaving a dog in a hot car, smashing someone's window to save a dog in North Carolina is illegal.

Car temperature pet safety chart
VeterinaryClinic.com

Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement said only first responders are legally allowed to smash open a car window to save an animal in distress.

The agency said people should call authorities to report an animal in distress.

According to Michigan State's Animal Legal and Historical Center, South Carolina has no specific laws about helping an animal left in a hot car, though Parton said it's better to contact first responders.

She said an even better solution is for people to not leave their pets in their cars.

"It's just so much safer to leave them at home," Parton said. "You don't want to run the risk of brain damage or a heat stroke."

ALSO ON WCNC:

SC grandparents stun the internet in 60th anniversary photo shoot

Gauff, just 15, shocks 5-time champ Venus, 39, at Wimbledon

‘We thank God every day’ | Mother, daughter reflect 25 years after surviving USAir Flight 1016 crash in Charlotte

'He just brings happiness to everyone' | GiGi's Playhouse empowers children, adults with Down syndrome in Charlotte