DENVER (KDVR) — A person or pet trapped in a locked car can be deadly within minutes even in temperatures in the 80s. This week, temperatures are expected to near the triple digits.

Just this month, K-9 officers in Georgia and Texas died of heat-related illnesses in patrol vehicles.

Denver Animal Protection said last week that it had received 323 calls reporting dogs left inside vehicles during extreme temperatures so far this year.

“They have seen an increase in calls, for dogs being left in vehicles, that they’re responding to, right now,” Lakewood Police Agent Paul Osckel said. “Cracking the window, does absolutely nothing, to protect the dog,” he said.

Pet owners can be cited and even face jail time for animal cruelty if they are guilty of leaving an animal in a hot car.

But if you see a child or an animal trapped in a hot car, you can help. The first step is to alert DAP or police, but if it’s an emergency, you can force entry into the vehicle to assist the at-risk person or animal.

How to care for dogs with suspected heat-related illness

First, you should know if the dog is suffering from a heat-related illness or heat stroke.

The Humane Society said these are the signs to look for:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid pulse
  • Unsteadiness or staggering
  • Bloody nose, diarrhea, vomit
  • Dry, deep red or purple tongue
  • Hemorrhages in gums or under the skin
  • Body temperature over 104 degrees

The Humane Society recommends seeking veterinary care as soon as possible, even if the dog appears to be improving.

In the meantime, it recommends providing care in these ways:

  • Move the dog to a cool area
  • Apply cool, not cold, water or soak in a cool bath
  • Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, armpits, paws, ear flaps, groin area
  • Direct a fan on wet areas to speed evaporative cooling
  • Offer fresh, cool water if the dog is alert and wants to drink, but do not force it

What to do if you see a child or animal stuck in a hot car

A bill was passed in Colorado in 2017 that protects people who render emergency assistance to an at-risk person or animal locked in a hot car.

The bill provides immunity from civil and criminal liability, but the person must check all the following steps:

  • Ensure the vehicle is not a law enforcement vehicle
  • Have a reasonable belief that the person or animal is in imminent danger of death or suffering serious bodily injury
  • Verify the vehicle is locked
  • Make a reasonable effort to locate the owner or operator of the vehicle
  • Contact a law enforcement or other first responder agency prior to forcibly entering the vehicle and not interfere with the actions of any such responding law enforcement agency
  • Use no more force than reasonably necessary to enter the locked vehicle
  • Remain with the at-risk person or animal in a safe location close to the vehicle until law enforcement or other first responder arrives at the scene; except that, if the person rendering assistance has to leave the scene before the owner or operator of the vehicle returns, prior to leaving the scene, the person rendering assistance shall leave a notice on the vehicle with his or her name and contact information and the name and location, if any, of the facility to which he or she took the at-risk person or animal. Also prior to leaving the scene, the person rendering assistance shall contact law enforcement, animal control, or other first responder to provide them with the same information.

To avoid any risk of an emergency, DAP said to never leave a person or a pet alone in a hot car.