JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As temperatures rise, heat exhaustion continues to present a major concern -- not just for people, but also for the four-legged members of your family.
Last year alone, at least 62 animals died as a result of being kept inside hot cars, according to KidsandCars.org, but the nonprofit group believes that number could be much higher.
"Most people think, 'Well, I can run into the store real fast, they don't let dogs in the store, so I'll be back in a few minutes,'" said Dr. Christian Broadhurst with the Clay County Humane Society.
But, as Broadhurst pointed out, a quick trip inside rarely ends up being quick. So what starts out as a five-minute errand can turn into 15 minutes, "which can be absolutely fatal," he said.
These hot car deaths continue to pose a threat to both animals and people. Just last week, a 4-month-old Jacksonville girl died after she was left inside a day care van for several hours.
"People forget children in cars, people forget pets in cars, but you just always have to keep in mind that they're in this hot box that will get well over the ambient temperature in no time flat," Broadhurst said.
In Florida, there are laws to protect animals from being left inside hot vehicles. If someone is found negligent for leaving an animal in a hot car, they can be charged with animal cruelty.
While Broadhurst recommends contacting law enforcement in the event of such a situation, people are empowered to take action if an animal is on the brink of death.
"You are able to save a life, if necessary, to break the window of that car, but I would always first look for law enforcement,” he said.