Authorities say two dogs died and another was treated for severe dehydration after a woman left them in a vehicle for hours outside a casino in southwestern Michigan.

The Cass County prosecutor's office says Sherill Langford faces felony charges of torturing or killing an animal as well as misdemeanor charges including lying to a police officer.

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"Bottom line is that when you have an animal, you need to take care of it and you need to protect it because you are responsible for the life of that animal," said Victor Fitz, the Cass County prosecutor.

Online court records don't indicate whether Langford, who is from the Flint-area community of Davison, has a lawyer who could comment on her behalf. She's due in court April 17.

Prosecutors say the dogs were left in the vehicle Sunday outside Four Winds Casino in Dowagiac, located about 15 miles north of Michigan's border with Indiana. Authorities responded after someone notified security.

During this time of the year you may think it is safe to leave your pets inside the car. However, a local veterinarian says our animals are just as at risk from dehydration and heat stroke.

"So this particular story is not one that I was immediately aware of but unfortunately it's not surprising as we head into the warmer weather," said Tessa Peterson, a local veterinarian. "Even in the spring we can hit 70 degree days that can turn our cars into ovens."

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, even on a 70 degree day, the temperature inside your car can rise up to 89 degrees in 10 minutes and in 20 minutes it can rise up to nearly 100 degrees.

Dr. Peterson said even if you leave your windows cracked open, it's still not safe for your pets.

"There should be some air movement in the car," Peterson said. "Again I don't want people to think cracking the windows provides a lot of temperature control because it doesn't. It statistically does not drop the temperature in a car. But if they're going to be in a car that's not running, it gets hot very quick."

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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