Editor's note: New editions of the "Ask the Trooper" column are on hiatus by the Minnesota State Patrol. Following is a previous column from the Perham Focus archives.

Question: I noticed a dog that was in a vehicle the other day at a local business parking lot and the occupants were not around. I was wondering what I should have done. With the recent warm weather, I can imagine the temperature inside the car must have been dangerously high for that dog. Is there a law against this?

Answer: There is a law that a person may not leave a dog or a cat unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the pet’s health or safety. A peace officer, a humane agent, a dog warden, or a volunteer or professional member of a fire or rescue department may use reasonable force to enter a motor vehicle and remove a dog or cat in this situation.

If you see an unattended pet in a vehicle, report this to law enforcement with a location and vehicle description.

I would advise pet owners to use caution and always look out for your pet’s well-being and safety. Consider the following options:

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  • Leave your pet at home whenever possible.
  • Arrange to have someone stay in the vehicle with the pet with the engine and air conditioner running.
  • Check with the business, as they may allow you to bring in your pet while shopping.

This study also found that cracking the windows had very little effect on the temperature rise inside the vehicle.