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After two dogs died, Kansas City groups offer help on keeping pets cool in summer heat

Kansas City Star logo Kansas City Star 7/10/2020 By Laura Evans, The Kansas City Star

Following the recent deaths of two dogs, two Kansas City area organizations have teamed up on a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of heat exposure to animals.

The deaths, according to a news release from Great Plains SPCA, were due to a dog being left in a hot car and a dog being left on a porch.

“Within 24 hours, two dogs died from the heat,” said Tam Singer, CEO of Great Plains SPCA. “Just like Great Plains, KCK Animal Services is seeing these dogs stuck and unable to protect themselves from the heat, so I thought it was very important that we partner together to help raise awareness.”

With a July heatwave on the horizon, the organizations have taken to social media with the campaign, urging dog owners to limit their pets’ time outside and to make sure a dog has proper shade and access to water when outside.

Additionally, Great Plains is offering supplies for limiting heat exposure, such as water bowls and tarps to produce shade.

The organization also encourages people to report incidents where they think dogs are in danger to local animal control and to follow Kansas’ Good Samaritan law, which affords legal protection to those who free pets or children from hot cars after following steps like notifying law enforcement.

“While staffing is minimal due to furloughs, animal neglect calls are our top priority and take precedence along with injured animal calls and bite injuries,” KCK Animal Services director Jennifer Stewart said. “Each neglect call is investigated and we work within legal parameters to ensure the safety and welfare of the animal.”

The organizations have also created informational graphics with tips to recognize and avoid heat exposure. Some signs a dog is in trouble include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy or vomiting.

They also sent out tips such as using kiddie pools to cool down active dogs that spend more time outside and staying aware of how hot pavement can hurt animals’ paws.

“Dogs do not cool down in the same way humans do,” Singer said. “The only way they can cool down is through panting, so it’s harder for them to bring their temperature down than it is for us.”

Singer said one of the most important things to remember is “if you see something, say something.”

“I think so often people will see an animal in distress in someone else’s yard or in a car and not necessarily think to do something,” she said. “If you think an animal is in danger, please contact animal control so they can at least look into it. It might be nothing, but you could save a life.”

According to the news release, heat exposure deaths are especially painful for a dog and involve a clotting disorder, organ failure, seizures and the brain overheating.

“The hot humid weather that we are experiencing now is extremely dangerous,” Singer said. “A dog cannot open a car door themselves. A dog cannot open the gate to let themselves off the porch. We must be their advocates.”

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©2020 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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