Summer officially begins Thursday but lately, it has felt like it's already here. (Other times, it has not - that's for sure.)

Over the past few years, it seems we have heard more and more about incidents involving animals being left in hot cars. What do you do if you see one in the summer heat? Are you able to break a window or call the police without facing a fine?

I did a little research so you can be prepared in case you run into the situation.

According to Minnesota Statutes from 2017, there are 3 rules regarding dogs and cats in motor vehicles.

- Subdivision 1 is in regards to unattended dogs or cats. The statute states, "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." If you violate this, you will be charged $25.

- Subdivision 2 details removal of dogs or cats. It states, "A peace officer, as defined in section 626.84, a humane agent, a 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 and remove a dog or cat which has been left in the vehicle in violation of subdivision 1. A person removing a dog or a cat under this subdivision shall use reasonable means to contact the owner of the dog or cat to arrange for its return home. If the person is unable to contact the owner, the person may take the dog or cat to an animal shelter." Basically, only a select few may actually break open a wondow to remove an animal.

- Subdivision 3 states what is mentioned above: if you violate subdivision 1, you are subject to a $25 fine as this is a petty misdemeanor.

 The same rules also apply to cats but no other animals fall under the statute. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, "hot car" laws are becoming more and more prevalent.

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