SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – The South Hadley police are reminding pet owners not to leave animals in cars unattended.

Heat Advisory is in effect for eastern portions of Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties from 8 a.m. Saturday through 8 p.m. Sunday. Temperatures will range from 92-96 degrees on both days, with the heat index (or the temperature it feels like when the humidity is factored in), approaching 100 degrees.

When it’s hot outside, it’s even hotter inside your car. On an 80-degree day, the temperature inside your car can warm up to 99 degrees in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, the temperature can reach 109 degrees and after an hour, more than 120 degrees.

(Massachusetts State Police)

Steps you can take if you see a pet in a parked car according to South Hadley police:

  1. Take down the car’s make, model and license plate number.
  2. If there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner. Many people are unaware of the danger of leaving pets in hot cars and will quickly return to their vehicle once they are alerted to the situation.
  3. If the owner can’t be found, call the non-emergency number of the local police or animal control and wait by the car for them to arrive.

Laws and penalties on leaving a pet in a hot car

It’s illegal in Massachusetts to confine an animal in a vehicle exposed to extreme weather conditions. If you’re caught in violation you could be fined $150 for a first offense with fines increasing for multiple offenses.

The law says police, firefighters, or animal control can enter your vehicle if there’s an animal inside who’s in distress. A civilian can also enter your car to rescue a pet but only if there’s no other way for the animal to get out, they’ve made an attempt to contact the owner, and only after calling 911 first.

Massachusetts law also protects civilians who rescue pets in distress from civil or criminal liability.