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Warning: Don't leave kids, pets in car

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Warning: Don't leave kids, pets in car
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

FARGO - With weekend temperatures expected to soar into the 90s and the heat index nearing 110 degrees, police offered a simple warning this week.

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"We just want citizens to remember to use good common-sense decision making," Police Lt. Joel Vettel said. "Don't leave your children and pets vulnerable in vehicles."

Children and animals are less able to handle extreme heat and are more susceptible to hyperthermia, a condition that occurs when a body's thermostat is overloaded by heat.

Punctuating the danger, Vettel said one pet owner may face charges after reporting the death of a

1-year-old dog.

The owner, who left the dog unattended in a vehicle for two hours while shopping last month at West Acres Shopping Center, returned to find the pet dead.

Temperatures that day were in the 70s.

"The owner attempted to resuscitate the animal," Vettel said. "This wasn't a lack of caring but poor decision making. Even on a beautiful day, vehicles can reach life-threatening temperatures. "

Now prosecutors are mulling whether to charge the dog owner with animal cruelty, an infraction that can result in a fine up to $500.

According to statistics compiled by San Francisco State University, 38 children die in the U.S. from being overheated in unattended vehicles each year, and the number starts to drastically increase in the peak of summer. Since March, 19 children have died from being trapped in a car.

"Fortunately, we aren't often called to many of these situations," Vettel said. "But we can't stress enough that a car can heat up very quickly, even on a 70 degree-day. Children and animals should not be left unattended in vehicles, even with the windows cracked."

If a child or pet appears to be trapped in a vehicle and is showing symptoms of heat exhaustion, police urge witnesses to report the incident to their local law enforcement agency.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Danielle Cintron at (701) 235-7311

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