Keeping pets safe during hot Arizona weather is difference between life, death

PHOENIX - In the midst of this dangerous heat wave, there are several things Valley pet owners need to know about caring for their four-legged friends. It's not just the law; it could also be the difference between life or death.

"When the news comes on, it's his time," explained Don Love, owner of 14-year-old Woodstock, a Shih Tzu who likes to keep on schedule when it comes to his daily walks.

"He's the boss of the family!"

But what does this head hauncho do on days like today when the temperatures are soaring, even tying records? Love says plenty of water, shade, and walks on the grass.

"If I didn't keep him on a leash, he'd walk right on that sidewalk."

But for outdoor dogs, the situation can turn tragic quickly if they're not properly cared for.

Under Arizona law, you are required to provide water and shade for outdoor pets. If not, you can be charged with animal cruelty, ranging from misdemeanors all the way up to felonies, punishable with fines and even jail time.

"When the temperature gets to be their body temperature, they can't pant enough to cool themselves down without getting out of the sun," explains Detective Frederick Porter with Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit.

And with shade, MCSO says it doesn't even have to be a standard doghouse. It could be something as simple as a tarp - anything that will keep that dangerous sun off your pet.

"He's kind of like me, he doesn't mind the heat too much," explains Love.

Woodstock may be tiny, but he's awfully tough when it comes to these triple digits. For Love, attitude really is the only way to beat the heat.

"It's just as hot as you consider it to be."

In August, a new law will go into effect where bystanders can break car windows if they see a child or a pet inside a car that appears to be in distress. That person will not be liable for damages if it's determined the person was acting in the best interest of the child or pet. As always, it's a good idea to call 911 in situations like this.

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