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With temperatures possibly reaching record levels Sunday and Monday, local law enforcement officials are reminding people not to leave pets in vehicles.

On Saturday morning, Missoula police responded to four separate calls about dogs locked inside cars, said Sgt. Scott Pastian.

Animals left in unventilated vehicles during exceedingly hot weather can quickly suffer from heat-related injury or death.

For that reason, protecting pets from weather extremes is written into Montana law, which stipulates that owners can be cited for animal cruelty if a pet is mistreated "by failing to provide the animal with minimal protection for weather conditions."

"It's not our first option (to cite an owner with animal cruelty), but it is something at our disposal," said Pastian. "It's really important that people be aware of the heat right now and how it can affect their animals."

According to Michelle Mead, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in Missoula, temperatures are expected to reach a high of 98 to 102 degrees on Sunday and Monday.

She noted that 100-degree temperatures have only been recorded twice during the month of June in Missoula, both times in 1937.

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