Arizona Humane Society responding to surge in heat-related calls

Posted at 5:02 PM, Jun 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-24 08:52:37-04

The Arizona Humane Society is responding to a surge in emergency calls as crews work to save pets from the heat.

Since Monday morning, the agency has responded to more than 200 calls, telling ABC15 about half are heat-related. They are dealing with roughly double the amount of calls they do in winter months.

"This week has been borderline unbearable," said Andy Gallo, an emergency animal medical technician with the Arizona Humane Society.

Gallo responds to emergency calls that can often lead to criminal investigations. He brings medical supplies with him to help injured or exhausted animals, and says his top priority is connecting pets with water.

"The heat is, the second you jump out of your truck, is like walking into a furnace," he said. "You also tell yourself, if you're that hot, how hot is the animal?"

According to the Arizona Humane Society, their caseload this week was as follows:

Monday - 47 Cases  (45% heat-related)
Tuesday - 46 Cases (50% heat-related)
Wednesday - 61 Cases (46% heat-related)
Thursday - 52 Cases (39% heat-related)

Gallo pointed out that while air temperatures soar to 116 or 118 degrees, the ground temperature can rise to 150 degrees, or more.

"You're left out in this heat, it doesn't take long for you to drop," he said.

On Friday morning, Gallo transported a kitten that was found seeking shade in a drainage pipe. He also checked on a call about a dog left in a hot car. Gallo told ABC15 the car broke down and the owner cracked the vehicle's windows and left to seek help. Citing it as an unusual situation, Gallo said the dog was ultimately released back to the owner.

"It did turn out in this particular case he did get the dog back," he said. "I did warn him that if anything like this happened again, it wouldn't be the same circumstance."

While temperatures have been extremely hot this week, the Arizona Humane Society doesn't expect to see a big drop in calls until cooler temperatures arrive in the fall.

In 2016, the City of Phoenix adopted a tethering ordinance that makes it illegal to tether your dog outside in temperatures that exceed 100 degrees. The ordinance prohibits pet owners from tethering a dog in a way that it "unreasonably limits" the dog's movement.

Gallo said half the calls they are working involve tethered dogs, dogs without water or shelter and dogs in heat distress.