LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -As much as pets enjoy going outdoors or riding in cars with their owners, officials are cracking down on people leaving their pets inside their vehicles in the heat of the summer.
Officials say you can put your animal at a serious risk of illness or even death, even on a day that doesn't seem that hot to you. Dogs and cats can suffer from the same things humans do such as heat strokes, dehydration or even sunburn.
Russell Anderson, the superintendent over Lawton Animal Welfare and a pet owner who's very active within the community and helps people take care of their pets, says it only takes 10 minutes for your car to heat up 20 degrees, and hopes people understand if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your pet.
"It's the same as having a child locked in a car, these guys are living and breathing just like you and I," Anderson said.
We often hear the stories or see dogs and cats panting inside a vehicle at a grocery store or mall, but even just running in really quick can do major damage.
"Five minutes of 20 minutes, that's a big difference. Seventy-degree heat will jump a car inside of it to 100 degrees in a matter of minutes," Anderson explained.
Anderson says he's thankful for the communities help in saving pets lives.
"If you leave your animal in your car, someone's calling us and we have to go run those calls," Anderson said.
Lawton Police Detective Nancy Lombardo says there can be serious consequences, such as being cited or jailed, if something happens to the animal.
"Animal cruelty...this can be filed as felonies and you could be looking at time in the penitentiary. I mean they're serious crimes," Det. Lombardo said.
Det. Lombardo says even cracking your windows doesn't give them enough air and there's only one thing to do.
"There's no precaution. The only advice is to leave your animal at home," she said. "Bring them back a treat if you feel bad for leaving them. It's a lot better to come back to them and give them that treat then it would be to come back outside and your animal has passed away."
Det. Lombardo says if you see an animal locked inside a vehicle and is panting, call police.
Lawton Police say they have not worked any cases of pets passing away due to heat exhaustion in 2016.