Tips to keep your pets safe during Texas summer heat

It’s important to think about our furry friends when the temperatures are high.

Suzie Chase, Austin Pets Alive Community Relations Officer, said dogs don’t regulate internal body heat like humans. 

Austin-Travis County EMS said unlike humans, pets don’t have sweat glands over their entire body, only their noses and pads of their paws.

It’s important to remember these three things when the temperatures soar:

  • Take your pet outside before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

“Try to keep your pet in a shaded area and in the grass,” Chase said.

“You can only hang out at Zilker Park for 10 minutes on a sunny day,” Austin resident Harold Harris said.

  • Make sure your dog has plenty of water.

“Right now if you can, put a couple of bottles of water in the freezer, having those accessible, if you have to leave your home,” Chase said.

“You can feel these guys panting casually all the time, but once they get that side lay and start panting with the tongue out, it’s time to cool them off,” Harris said.

  • Don’t leave a pet in the car, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Austin-Travis County EMS said pets can suffer serious injuries like hyperthermia and heatstroke when left in a hot car for only 15 minutes.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting animals’ lives through the legal system. One piece of legislation they’re pushing is protecting animals in hot cars. 

Currently, Texas does not have a law allowing individuals to break in to vehicles to remove pets in hot cars.

“When animals are in these emergency situations, people should be able to intervene,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Staff Attorney Kathleen Wood said.

She said right now there also isn’t a way to hold pet owners accountable for leaving an animal in a hot car, but there is a reactive law, when it may be too late to save the animal.

“Somebody could be charged with animal cruelty if the animal suffers severe injury or death as a result,” Wood said.

Wood said if you do see an animal in distress, call 911.

“Law enforcement may be able to enter the vehicle without a warrant because there are exigent circumstances in order to save that animal’s life,” Wood said.

Wood said some of the concerns they’ve received about the Good Samaritan legislation, and why it hasn’t passed in Texas, is because it encourages lawlessness. She said they haven’t seen that be the case in the 14 other states where it is a law.

Chase said with temperatures soaring to ranges of 105-110 degrees and the possibility of rolling blackouts, the shelter is at risk of losing power and needs the community’s help. They’re asking members of the community to foster a dog or cat for a minimum of one week.

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