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Minnesota: No Law Against Leaving Children in Car

July 12, 2019 06:50 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Nearly 20 states in the U.S. have laws against leaving children unattended in cars, but Minnesota isn't one of them.

"It's true that Minnesota does not have that law," said Deputy Jeff Brion with the Dodge County Sheriff's Office, but surprisingly, laws in the state specifically prohibit leaving pets in cars.

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"Overheating can lead to a serious condition called heat stroke, and that can even, unfortunately, become a pretty life-threatening condition," said Dr. Benjamin Finkel, an associate veterinarian at Heritage Pet Hospital.

A scary outcome for both children and pets, but one that can be prevented. Officials say though nothing specifically says that it's a crime to leave your child in a car, that doesn't mean law enforcement can't intervene.

"It is an officer discretion issue, regarding the welfare of the child," Brion said.

"I think it's hard because sometimes when we equate laws, we equate punishment, and I think the idea is are we looking to punish parents for trying to make hard decisions on caring for their children," said local mom Angie Clark, who believes that parents should be able to use their judgment for situations like this, without being criticized.

"Is the child old enough, and physically capable and mentally advanced enough to get themselves out of a situation should something bad arise," said Clark.

Law enforcement says there are other factors to consider before leaving a child unattended.

"They can unbuckle and they can put the car in gear. They can get out of the car. Unbuckle and get out of the car. The car could be hit in the parking lot. The car could be stolen out of the parking lot or wherever it may be. So there's a lot of risks that just because the car is running doesn't mean the child is safe," said Brion.

Some mothers say it's an unnecessary hassle to wake a sleeping child just to quickly run into the store to grab something, and though Minnesota doesn't technically disagree, officials say seriously consider all the risks first.

Credits

Jaclyn Harold

Copyright 2019 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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