If you think these past few days have been unbearably hot as you spent a minute or two outside your air-conditioned home or office, think what it would feel like to be cooped up inside a car parked in the sun.
While you’re wearing a fur coat.
With the windows most of the way up.
With no water to drink or even a hint of a breeze.
And no way out.
After just 10 minutes in a car on a 95-degree day, the interior temperature reaches 114 degrees, according to a San Francisco State University researcher. After just 20 minutes, it’s 124 degrees in there.
“If you have to go somewhere, taking them (your dog) with you is not a good idea,” said Jason King, chief animal control officer at the Humane Society of Henderson County. “You can come back to a dead animal if they’re in there too long.”
Even if you’re just running to a store or to somebody’s house on what you think will be a quick errand, leave the dog at home. “It’s dangerous out there,” King said.
So far this summer, local animal control officers haven’t had too many heat-related complaints, King said Tuesday, just a day before the afternoon temperatures started their climb into the 90s and eventually to this weekend’s triple digits.
To keep these types of incidents to a minimum, shelter operations director Josh Cromer encourages people to not only look out for their own pets and to bring them indoors whenever possible, but also to keep an eye on their neighbors’ outdoor animals as well.
“If you know your neighbors have outside dogs and you’re home during the day, go over and check on them,” Cromer said. “Go give them water and make sure they have access to shade.
“That’s the responsible thing to do,” he added.
By law, an animal’s owner is required to provide a regular supply of fresh drinking water and a place for the animal to go to get out of the sun.
But that’s just the minimum that should be done.
Taking the pet into an air-conditioned home or a cool basement is the ideal solution, but if that is absolutely impossible, “be diligent on checking their water constantly,” King said. “You are going to have to fill it up more.”
Shady spots are more important than ever during extreme heat.
“You wouldn’t want to be out all day in the direct sun with no water,” King said.
“These living, breathing creatures get hot, too,” he said. “They need a way to get cooled off.”
And while people are encouraged to help their neighbors’ pets, if the situation is an ongoing problem, there may be no choice but to report the offenders to authorities.
Not providing water and shade for pets “is a crime. It falls under cruelty to animals,” King said. “If you are not doing this, you will get a visit from us.”
While the dogs and cats living at the Humane Society of Henderson County are kept in air-conditioned areas, the dogs also need a break from their kennels and a chance to get some exercise in the shelter’s fenced-in yards.
If you’d like to give the pups a fun way to cool off, the shelter is accepting donations of small kiddie pools in which the dogs can play and splash during hot summer days.
Cromer said that at the Franklin County shelter where he previously worked, the facility had numerous small plastic pools for the dogs to enjoy.
In addition to the wading pools, the Henderson shelter could also use donations of large stainless steel buckets to fill with water for the dogs to drink when they’re outside.
Temperatures are expected to continue to be in the upper 90s this week, with overnight lows in the mid-70s, so while you may enjoy attending the Fourth of July fireworks in downtown Henderson, it would probably be wise to leave your dog at home.
Many dogs don’t like the loud noises that fireworks make.
“If you know you have a skittish dog, it’s probably best to put it inside (your house) and let it feel a little more secure” than outside with a crowd as the loud booming fireworks light up the sky, Cromer said.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals web site agrees that home is the best place for dogs during fireworks shows.
“Please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities,” says a news release on the ASPCA site. “Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.”
The is the High Temperature Forecast for July 2, 2012.