RIFLE, Colo. (CBS4) – A Facebook post by the Rifle Police Department about a dog dying in a hot car can be seen as a cautionary tale with temperatures in the 80s and 90s this week. In the post, which has been shared thousands of times, police describe the moment the dog’s owner discovered the animal.

The pet was left in the car during the first week of July. The animal’s owner told investigators last weekend she didn’t realize how long she had been out of her car.

The dog owner told police she left the dog in the car with the engine running and the air-conditioning on high while she went to visit someone. An hour and 45 minutes later, she found the car was off and the dog was dead in the car.

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“There’s no reason this should ever happen. It’s very preventable,” Maia Brusseau, Public Relations Manager of the Denver Dumb Friends League said. “If it’s hot outside, just leave your dog at home.”

According to Brusseau, pet owners often forget how dangerous it can be to leave their pet inside a hot car.

Experts say the temperature inside a car can rise to 89 degrees within 10 minutes on a 70 degree day.

(Data from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

“They can’t dissipate heat the same way we can, they can’t sweat,” Brusseau said. “They can only dissipate heat through their paws, so they can get overheated very, very quickly and heat stroke is dangerous and deadly.”

Brusseau said it’s never worth the risk, no matter what precautions you think you took.

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“It gets way too hot way too fast in a car,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you are parked in the shade, if you’ve cracked the windows, if it’s just for a few minutes, it’s better to leave them at home.”

If someone doesn’t do so, there is something you can do. Two years ago, Colorado lawmakers made it legal to step in.

“There is the hot car immunity law passed a few years back,” Brusseau said. “That makes you immune from prosecution if you break a window to save an at-risk dog, cat, or person’s life.”

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Before taking the extreme step of breaking a window, there are a few things you must do. You must call 911, do everything in your power to try and find the pet’s owner, and do as little damage to the car as possible.

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