Seriously, don't leave your pet in a hot car

It's extremely dangerous to leave your pet in the car in this heat.

As we prepare for temperatures to soar this weekend, officials are again reminding Minnesotans to keep their pets safe from the heat.

Even when temps are in the low 70s, your pet is at risk if left alone in a hot car. It's going to be way hotter than that this weekend, with the National Weather Service predicting highs of 100 or more for parts of Minnesota. So it's especially important to drink more fluids, limit outdoor activity, and never leave any person or animal in a closed, parked vehicle.

We know you've heard this many times before, but incidents of pets left in cars happen every year despite the warnings. And while most people wouldn't hesitate to help a child in distress, some are not so sure how to react if they see a dog in the same situation. That's why Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC) is urging pet owners not to let it happen in the first place.

When it's this hot, pets should be kept inside and out of the direct sun, with access to cool, clean water, MACC says. Forget taking them with you to run errands – that's way too risky.

On a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with the windows partially open, officials warn. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.

Here's a look at how quickly things can heat up:

This chart maxes out at 95 degrees, and even then it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of a vehicle to reach 114. Just imagine how scorching it would be when it's 100-plus outside.

If you need proof, here's NFL player Tyrann Mathieu sitting in a hot car for as long as he can stand it:

Is it illegal?

Yes – it's illegal to leave your pet in a hot car in Minnesota. Our state is one of a few that has laws protecting animals in hot cars, though GoMN has previously pointed out that doesn't mean you can legally break someone's window if their pet is left inside.

So what is the law? State statute says: "A person may not leave a dog or a cat unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the dog's or cat's health or safety." A person who violates this can be charged with a petty misdemeanor and a $25 fine.

When it comes to removing an animal, the language says a peace officer, humane agent, dog warden, or a volunteer or professional member of a fire or rescue department of a political subdivision may use reasonable force to enter a motor vehicle to remove a dog or cat.

So unless you're one of those titles, you likely can't break a window and get away with it.

What should you do instead? Edina police gave some tips last month, but the bottom line if you see an animal in a hot car – or even one that's outside exhibiting signs of heat stress – call Animal Control immediately.

And if you believe the situation is life-threatening, call 911, and don't leave the scene until the pet owner or police get there.

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