Ask a Trooper: Is there a law against keeping pets in hot cars?

Published 9:44 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

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?

Troy Christianson

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

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I would advise pet owners to use caution and consider your pet’s well-being and safety.

• 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.

Below is a chart that shows how fast the inside of your vehicle can heat up. This study also found that cracking the windows had very little effect on the temperature rise inside the vehicle.

If you see an unattended pet in a vehicle, report this to law enforcement with a location and vehicle description. Please do not leave your pet unattended in a vehicle, even for a short period of time, as it could cause death or serious injury.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and of course, drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or email him at

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.

Estimated vehicle interior air temperature v. elapsed time

Elapsed time Outside Air Temperature (F)

70 75 80 85 90 95

0 minutes 70 75 80 85 90 95

10 minutes 89 94 99 104 109 114

20 minutes 99 104 109 114 119 124

30 minutes 104 109 114 119 124 129

40 minutes 108 113 118 123 128 133

50 minutes 111 116 121 126 131 136

60 minutes 113 118 123 128 133 138

> 1 hour 115 120 125 130 135 140

Courtesy Jan Null, CCM; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University