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DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Animal Protection (DAP) says animals can suffer brain damage or die of heatstroke in just minutes if left in a hot car.

Video Credit: Denver Animal Protection

A vehicle can reach 120 degrees in just minutes even if parked in the shade with windows rolled down, according to DAP.

Dogs and cats release heat by panting, exchanging body heat for cooler air, the air in a vehicle is too hot during scorching weather. The animal’s body temperature raises to dangerous and deadly levels quickly.

A Colorado good Samaritan law passed in 2017 allows citizens to legally break into a vehicle to save the life of a pet or child.

Before breaking into a vehicle, you must follow these steps first:

  • Reasonable belief the child or pet is in imminent danger of suffering serious bodily injury
  • Make a reasonable effort to contact the owner and law enforcement
  • Check to see if the vehicle is locked before breaking in
  • Remain with the animal or child until law enforcement or first responders arrive, if the person must leave the scene before they arrive a notice must be left on the vehicle with contact information
  • Ensure the vehicle is not a law enforcement vehicle
  • Use no more force than reasonably necessary to enter the locked vehicle

In Denver, it is a crime to leave an animal in dangerous conditions, such as a hot car, and could result in a $999 fine or up to 300 days in jail.

Pet owners that hot weather poses other risks, including asphalt burns from walking on pavement that is too hot and potentially fatal reactions to toxic algae in lakes and ponds, according to DAP.

More Pet Safety Tips and Videos are available from Denver Animal Protection.