The Animal Humane Society rescued nearly 50 cats from "extreme heat and unsanitary conditions" inside a vehicle in Harris, Minnesota on Tuesday.
The cats were turned over to AHS by their owner, who'd been living with the animals inside the vehicle for some time, the organization stated. Authorities became aware of the situation on Tuesday morning after receiving calls from concerned citizens who'd seen the cats at the Goose Creek rest stop.
Chisago County Sheriff's Office Capt. Derek Anklan said there's no criminal investigation into the matter as efforts were made to care for the cats.
The owner was assessed by paramedics at the scene and is being connected with additional resources, he added. According to the AHS, the owner had already surrendered 14 additional cats to a local organization prior to Tuesday's rescue.
Temperatures Tuesday soared into the 90s throughout Minnesota, with the daytime high in the Twin Cities, which is 50 miles south of Harris, topped out at 96 degrees. The heat index was even higher because of high humidity and dew point.
At 95 degrees outside, within 10 minutes the temp inside a vehicle will surge to 114. Within 20 minutes it's 124 inside the vehicle, and at the 60-minute mark the interior temp is a scorching-hot 138 degrees, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The cats rescued from the rest stop are being cared for, examined and evaluated by veterinary and animal behavior staff, the AHS said Wednesday. The cats range in age from less than 1-year-old to more than 12 years old and seem to have only minor medical issues.
"While they were in relatively good condition, they’re all in need of our help, and the community member ultimately knew that this was the option needed to save them," the organization wrote. "It is a heartbreaking situation for both the human and animals involved."
By Thursday morning, an AHS donation page on the organization's Facebook had raised over $9,300 for the cats' ongoing care.
And yes, it's illegal to leave your pet in a hot car in Minnesota. Minnesota is one of a few states with laws protecting animals in hot cars.