Photos and video: Andrew Goff

Three small dogs were locked in a red and black Chevy Cavalier parked on a Cutten’s Fern Street for what witnesses believe to be over 12 hours today, before law enforcement finally broke in and freed them.

The car was locked and its windows rolled up tight, and its registration tags were from 2014. A hypodermic needle was visible in the cab, along with two possibly used bottles of Naloxone.

The car and the trapped dogs were posted to Facebook by a concerned citizen this afternoon, and people were quick to express their anger, promising to go down to the scene and break windows themselves. In fact about five people showed up, and though there was plenty of muttering about forcing entry, an animal control officer arrived and her presence kept potential vigilantism at bay.

One of those people was a woman who said that her son spotted the car parked on the street at 3 a.m., when he went out hunting.

For a while, it seemed as though there was nothing could be done. California law allows for citizens to make entry into a parked vehicle in order to rescue animals in peril — so long as all the rules are followed — but it wasn’t clear that this was the case. The dogs — two of them, at least — were mobile, hopping around the inside of the car. The other was sleepy. It wasn’t clear that they were in imminent danger. But the witnesses were not going away.

Finally a couple of sheriff’s showed up and made a call: Since the tags on the car were five years out of date, they would tow it. And before they towed it, they would break in and get the dogs. A tow truck was called. A CHP officer was brought in.

When it came time to retrieve the dogs, entry proved to be not that difficult. In fact, a rear window was taped in place; officers merely peeled it back and got the pooches.

The dogs were taken to the animal shelter; the car was towed away; the witnesses were happy.