As temperatures were forecast to hit 104 Friday, animal care technician Chris Mann hosed off Ronda, a 2-year-old white-and-tan pit bull, as she frolicked in a plastic orange wading pool at Fresno Humane Animal Services.
“We have to be creative,” Fresno Humane president Brenda Mitchell said about the shelter’s efforts to keep their furry residents cooled off. “We’re different because we’re out here in the parking lot of an abandoned building.”
At the makeshift location of Fresno Humane Animal Services near Nielsen and Teilman avenues west of Highway 99, the location of the old county morgue, around 130 dogs are in kennels placed in carports, surrounded by misters and high-powered fans. The shelter also has around 40 cats, which are kept inside.
Since Wednesday, temperatures have been at 100 degrees or higher and they are expected to remain there until at least Tuesday, said Brian Ochs, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford. Friday’s high was around 15 degrees above normal.
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Highs are expected to be 106 degrees on Saturday, 102 on Sunday, and 101 on Monday, Ochs said. Lows will be in the mid- to high 60s throughout the week.
“We’re using lots of fans and wading pools,” Mitchell said. As the organization has coped with its first summer handling animal control for the county, it has spent the last several weeks setting up three carports, with more planned.
Inside the carports, six high-powered fans, costing $500 apiece, rotate and cool off the large and medium-sized dogs, Mitchell said. Two fans and a cooler keep temperatures down in the small dog barn, which is getting an air conditioning unit installed later this month.
In two separate fenced-off areas, volunteers and staff let dogs wet their fur and play in the water.
Dogs can’t sweat, so they cool themselves by panting and drenching themselves in water, said Mann, who has worked as an animal care technician for four months. Mann takes around 10 dogs each day to the wading pools.
“We try to keep all the dogs cool as well as we can,” Mann said. “But a lot of the dogs are actually afraid of the water so we don’t want to push it too hard on them.”
The shelter also has to keep a close eye on certain breeds.
“Dogs with short snouts – what we call brachycephalic – those dogs are more at risk for heat exhaustion,” Mitchell said. “Pugs, French bulldogs, English bulldogs, boxers – anything with a flat snout.”
The best thing pet owners can do for their own animals is keep them inside, Mitchell said. “Keep them in the air conditioning – they’re like us, they want to be comfortable.”
But if animals are going to be outside, “they need to have fresh drinking water that’s in the shade, not out in the sun,” Mitchell said. “(Pet owners) can put out size-appropriate wading pools – you don’t want your pets to drown.”
Mitchell also warned against taking dogs on walks in the intense heat because of the possibility of burned paws. “It’s just like us walking without shoes on the asphalt,” she said.
Humans can do things, too, to stay safe in the heat. Ochs recommended that people drink extra water, limit outdoor exercise during daytime and wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
“You also don’t want to leave kids or pets in cars,” Ochs said. “When in direct sunlight, inside temperatures can rise to dangerous levels within minutes.”
To give Valley residents relief from the sweltering sun, several cities have opened cooling centers.
Fresno’s are open from noon to 8 p.m. through Sunday and are located at:
- Ted C. Wills Community Center, 770 N. San Pablo Ave.
- Frank H. Ball Neighborhood Center, 760 Mayor Ave.
- Mosqueda Community Center, 4670 E. Butler Ave.
- Pinedale Community Center, 7170 N. San Pablo Ave.
- Romain Neighborhood Park, 745 N. First St.
Fresno’s FAX bus system will provide free transportation for anyone who needs to get to a cooling center. Passengers should indicate to the driver that is why they are boarding.
In Hanford, the Kings Gospel Chapel will serve as a cooling center on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and it is located at 805 W. 7th St. Also in Hanford, Longfield Center at 560 S. Douty St. will serve a center from 1 to 8 p.m. through Sunday.
Visalia Transit Center is open through Sunday to people who need relief from the heat. It is at 425 E. Oak Ave. and is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Pet care 101 in a heat wave
- Never leave pets in parked cars for any period of time. During the day, inside temperatures can soar to 120 degrees within minutes.
- Any animal that is kept outside needs shade and plenty of cool water.
- Know and recognize the signs of heatstroke, which include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination and a deep red or purple tongue. If heatstroke occurs, take action immediately to move the animal to an air-conditioned area, apply ice packs or cold towels, let the animal lick ice cubes and take it to a vet.
- Both the sidewalk and asphalt get hot, so limit exercise to the early morning or late evening times. The ground outside during the day reaches temperatures that can burn pets’ paws.