VIRGINIA BEACH -- Animal control officers say they're busy rescuing dogs locked in hot cars, and they want you to know the penalties are stiff.
Since Saturday, officers have responded to 29 cases of people leaving their pets inside cars. Offenders can face up to a $2,500 fine as well as jail time.
'It's ridiculous people shouldn't leave their dogs in the cars,' Animal control supervisor Steve Snyder remarked.
As temperatures heat up this week, authorities are warning about the danger of leaving your pets behind in the passenger seat. If it's 90 degrees out, the inside of your car could be 130 degrees.
The majority of the reports are at shopping centers or the Oceanfront, police said. 'When they find out dogs aren't allowed at the Oceanfront, they leave them in their cars.'
According to state law, leaving a pet in your car is a class one misdemeanor animal cruelty charge. If law enforcement can't find the pet's owner, they'll use tools to break into your car. 'If the dog's life is in any kind of danger, we will pick them up,' Snyder stressed.
The Virginia Beach Fire Department has pet oxygen masks so they can treat the animals. Battalion Chief Amy Valdez explained many times people report only seeing children locked in cars, and not pets. 'In general people walk by an animal, and think it's horrible, but they don't call 911.'
Since May 2013, Virginia Beach emergency personal have responded to 149 calls for service for children and animals being locked inside cars.
A car can heat up as much as 20 degrees in 10 minutes, and cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.