There’s a famous story about New York Yankees Manager Yogi Berra. One very hot night, he attended a party hosted by New York Mayor John Lindsay and his wife Mary. As Yogi strolled in, wearing a lime green suit on the sweltering evening, Ms. Lindsay said, “You certainly look cool.” Berra replied, “Thanks, Ms. Lindsay. You don’t look so hot yourself.”
The scorching weather we are currently experiencing poses special dangers for animals—both our companion animals at home and wildlife. As we keep ourselves cool, we can also protect these animal friends from the heat.
The Humane Society of the United States has published a set of suggestions for protecting companion animals in hot weather:
Never leave your animal in a parked car!!! Not even for a minute. On an 85-degree day, the temperature in a car with the windows slightly open can reach 102 degrees in ten minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees. An animal left in a car can suffer irreversible organ damage and die. Even leaving the air conditioning on is not safe: the car could die, or the air conditioning could fail or run short on coolant. Be safe; leave your friend at home.
In Florida, it’s legal to rescue an animal left in a car in the heat. If you reasonably believe an animal left in a car is in danger from the heat, you are entitled to rescue the animal, as long as you do not damage the vehicle more than necessary to save the animal. Florida law provides you with immunity.
Limit exercise on hot days. On hot days, limit exercise to just a few minutes in the early morning. Check the temperature of the sidewalk or street by pressing the palm of your hand on the surface. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your animal companion. Always carry water to help your animal stay hydrated.
Don’t rely on a fan. Animals don’t cool off the same way we do. With very little exposed skin, they can’t sweat in order to get cool. A fan won’t help much at all.
Keep your animals inside; when they must go outside, provide plenty of shade and water. Doghouses aren’t useful shade; they can trap the heat.
Make sure your animals always have plenty of fresh, cool water.
Include your animals in your emergency plan; know how you’ll help them if there’s a power outage. The following emergency shelters in Jacksonville allow companion animals:
- Chimney Lakes Elementary School
- Landmark Middle School
- Legends Community Center
- Mandarin Middle School
- Atlantic Coast High School
The National Wildlife Federation provides these tips for helping wildlife during extreme heat:
Make a special effort to keep your birdbaths full or think about getting one if you do not currently have one.
Hang a “drip jug” over your bird bath – a basic plastic milk jug filled with water with a tiny hole in the bottom. The birds will hear the drip and it will attract them for a cool bath and a drink. Put out some additional water-filled containers. Placing a couple of containers (one shallow and one a little deeper) on the ground will help other creature such as ground squirrels, raccoons, and many others.
Don’t forget the hummingbirds – they rely on nectar from plants, and summer conditions can dry up natural supplies that a good hummingbird feeder can help replace.
Keep yourself, your animals, and wildlife cool and hydrated through this hot summer!