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The Dog Days can still be hard on pets

July 3, 2013 - Jenny Rukenbrod
Did you know that the Dog Days of Summer are upon us? Yes, those hot dry summer days most commonly found, at least in our neck of the woods, to be in July and August. If you are like me, you thought this phrase came from a commercial for lemonade or a Broadway play. But that is not the case. In fact, in ancient Rome, these days were seen to be evil and troublesome. A brown dog would be sacrificed √Ęto appease the rage of Sirius√£ which was known as the "Dog Star." As the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, Sirius was thought to cause the sultry weather. Fortunately for brown dogs, today we look for a shade tree or air-conditioned enclosures as a way to beat the heat. But in a community where people and pets are connected, we must be mindful that heat does kill. Already, the headlines have carried yet another case where a child was left asleep in an enclosed car on a warm day. We listened, horrified by the account of a nearby K-9 officer that perished in a patrol car when the air condition failure alert malfunctioned. Reminders seem redundant or insulting, yet the act continues, which leads me to repeat the warning. Even with an outside temperature of 70 degrees, the inside temperature of a car with the windows open can climb to 100 degrees in minutes. While leaving the car running with the air condition engaged is an option, numerous accounts prove that failure can occur with tragic consequences. No doubt, if you saw a sleeping or unconscious human in a car on a warm day, you would act immediately. But what would you do if it was a pet? As I seem to suggest on a regular basis via this column and otherwise, turning a blind eye is not acceptable. In the case of a hazardous situation involving a parked vehicle, call authorities immediately. Living with the haunting memory of what may happen if you do not act is not worth a small investment of time and effort. Local law enforcement should be equipped to advise you on the situation. Heatstroke is an excruciating death. The life of your pet or loved one depends on your good or bad judgment. With the long daylight hours and balmy temperatures of summer comes plenty of outdoor activity for people and pets. While we humans can depend on shoes or sandals to protect our feet, pets do not naturally come with extra layers to insulate from hot sidewalks and pavement. Paw pads can become painful at 120 degrees with damaging burns and blisters occurring at higher temps. Wait until evening for a healthy walk or seek out an indoor, climate controlled location for safety and comfort. Such a facility will be opening soon near Salem called the Animal Resource Complex. In a community where people and pets are connected, summer is a special time. May your Dog Days be the best ever!

Jenny Pike People and Pets: A Community Connected June, 2013


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