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FARGO, N.D. — Police pulled about 30 cats and kittens out of a minivan in downtown Fargo Thursday and will be taking the animals to a local shelter.

Fargo police were called at 1:40 p.m. to deal with the cats left in a white Chrysler van in the parking lot of Romantix, 417 NP Ave., when it was over 80 degrees outside.

Sgt. Mike Bernier said the cats were removed for the sake of their welfare. He said the cats were panting and in distress in the 80-degree heat. A window of the van was slightly cracked, and it smelled heavily of cat urine.

"The vehicle was not running. There was no air conditioning running," Bernier said. "I gave permission to our community service officers to make entry to the vehicle to rescue the cats. They got a tow truck to help them breach the lock on the van to get in."

Officers also entered the van through the back window that was covered with cardboard. There were so many cats that officers on scene said they lost track of counting during the two hours they worked to remove the cats.

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The owner of the vehicle returned to the parking lot around 3 p.m. and was visibly upset. Bernier detained the owner as the remainder of the cats were removed.

He said the owner was appearing in Municipal Court across the street for infractions related to prior instances when police were called to check on the cats in her van. Those animal welfare calls were made on June 17 and June 20.

Bernier said the owner will be cited for unattended animals in a motor vehicle. Police declined to release her name because she was not under arrest.

"State law says you cannot allow animals inside a vehicle, abandoned," Bernier said. "The cats were under stress, actually panting, and the officer could see that through the window."

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