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Pet owners urged to keep close eye on animals during Arizona's extreme heat

A string of June temperatures above 115 degrees prompted extreme heat warnings, advising people to stay cool and indoors when possible. But humans aren’t the only ones at risk when it gets dangerously hot, as it’s going to be this week.

Ruthie Jesus, a field operations supervisor with the Arizona Humane Society, said the organization responded to more than 240 calls in June. More than 50% were related to the heat.

“We as people need to remember that the weather really affects animals,” Jesus said. “We might have the luxury of being inside in the air-conditioning, but if you have the ability to keep your pets indoors, we always encourage you to do that.”

An excessive heat warning is in effect the next two days, prompting the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department to close several popular trails during the hottest hours under a recent pilot program. Dogs are banned from all Phoenix trails when temperatures top 100 degrees.

Forty-three percent of Arizona households own dogs, according to 2016 census data compiled by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dogs can suffer from heat stress – and their paws can burn – in just a few minutes.

Even in temperatures as relatively low as 100 degrees, surface temperatures can exceed 160 degrees on artificial turf and 150 degrees on asphalt, said assistant professor Jennifer Vanos, an extreme heat researcher with the ASU School of Sustainability.

“Common urban materials that are not shaded can reach scorching temperatures, much higher than the ambient temperature,” Vanos told ASU News.

If you must keep a pet outside, Jesus said, don’t tether it.

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“Please make sure that they have a large and adequate amount of water in a cool place, that they have proper shelter and that you’re checking on them regularly,” she said.

Ensuring the health and safety of a pet can be doubly important when heat warnings land in the middle of fire season.

A team with the Arizona Humane Society set up a mobile shelter during the Backbone Fire near Payson to establish a safe place for those evacuated with pets and livestock.

The Backbone Fire, which burned more than 40,800 acres from June 16 to July 15, was one of hundreds that has scorched the state this year.

“Sometimes during that evacuation process, in the hustle and bustle, animals can get injured,” Jesus said. “We’ve had animals brought to us that got shut in the door because everyone was trying to leave the house.”

Summer is a busy time for the Humane Society, and closely monitoring your pet is one way to keep them safe during the intensity of the season, Jesus said.

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