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HS Animal Services offers tips to keep pets safe during heat wave

by Courtney Edwards | July 21, 2022 at 4:05 a.m.
An infrared thermometer, which Hot Springs Animal Services uses to test the temperature of cars with animals trapped inside, reads 128 degrees. – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record

As heat advisories remain in effect for Garland County and many other areas of the state, Hot Springs Animal Services is recommending ways to keep pets safe, especially if they are regularly outside.

"If you have outdoor pets, make sure they have plenty of cool water, shade, something that has airflow because a doghouse is no good for a dog in this type of heat; it's like an oven," Hot Springs police Sgt. Chris Adkins, the director of Hot Springs Animal Services, said.

Michelle Stone, the coordinator of Hot Springs Animal Services, warned against giving an animal very cold water or ice if their body temperature is high, as it could cause the animal's body to go into shock. Adkins also recommended putting cool, wet towels around an animal suffering from heat illness rather than dousing it with cold water, as well as contacting a vet.

It's suggested in a period of extreme heat, or a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two days, to keep animals off of pavement and asphalt.

"Their feet blister like ours would, so grass is optimal," Adkins said.

"If it's hot to the touch with you putting your hand on it, then it's going to be hot to your dog no matter what, so just be mindful of that," Stone said.

Dogs and cats sweat through their paws, Adkins said. Leaving a small pool with cool water outside for animals can cool them down faster than drinking water in some cases.

While cats are more agile and have a higher chance of finding someplace to cool off, dogs may have a harder time, especially if they are leashed or confined, as required by the city. Stone said she has noticed more dogs digging in the high temperatures lately, in an attempt to stay cool.

"If a dog is in a fence, it's more likely to dig trying to get into cool places if it's confined to one area," Stone said. "So just make sure that if you have nothing but dirt or something like that, you keep it cool with some water."

Animal services have been notified of several instances of dogs left alone in hot cars this summer, Stone said.

"If it's 85-degree weather and the sun is shining, within 10 minutes it can be 102," she said. "Thirty minutes, it's 120, so the dog will stroke out. Even if you have your windows down, it's not going to matter. If there's no cool air going through, it's still going to be hot, as hot as it would with the windows shut."

The Hot Springs police and fire departments and animal services have access to infrared thermometers, which they can use to detect the temperature inside of a car. The device is also used by the fire department to test for hot spots while checking house fires, Adkins said.

If a bystander noticed a dog trapped in a locked car, Adkins said the best thing to do is call 911 immediately.

"If we have to break out a window, it's been done before to get entry to a car," he said. "At that point, the owner will be charged with animal cruelty, it's going to be a felony. Because if you knowingly leave an animal in a vehicle going to Walmart, Kroger, wherever you're going, for any length of time, and the dog passes as a result of the heat, you're going to be charged."

The main goal of Hot Springs Animal Services is to educate, Stone said.

"A lot of times we want to educate people because of the fact that sometimes maybe they just don't know, or maybe the person is homeless," she said. "We've been seeing that a lot, where they have their animals in their vehicle, and that's where they sleep so their animals are always in their vehicle. But they have to understand that if they're hot, their animal is going to be hot as well.

"We want to educate. That's our biggest thing here, is just letting people know what to do and what not to do," she said.

Although animals can be adopted through Hot Springs Animal Services, all of the dogs that were on the premises Wednesday were already adopted and will be picked up Friday, Stone said. The shelter still had cats and kittens available for adoption as of Wednesday.

  photo  In order to protect animals during excessive heat, officials recommend giving them constant access to cool water and shelter with an airflow. – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record
  photo  Although all of the dogs at the shelter were adopted as of Wednesday, Hot Springs Animal Services still had cats and kittens available for adoption. – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record

Print Headline: HS Animal Services offers tips to keep pets safe during heat wave


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