Anyone who’s spent a summer in Southern Arizona is quite familiar with the high temperatures, but did you know that your pets are feeling heat, too? From heat waves to dry spells, if it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for you pet.

That’s the advice of Pima Animal Care Center Director of Animal Services Kristen Hassen.

“Every year, pets perish because they didn’t have access to shade, water and fresh air,” Hassen said in a recent release. “This is entirely preventable.”

According to the shelter, Animal Protection Service officers respond to hundreds of calls every year involving pets dealing with heat-related illnesses—and even deaths. Often, these animals were left outdoors, in a vehicle or in another risky situation. 

To help keep Southern Arizona’s pets safe this summer, PACC has released the following tips:

• Keep pets indoors: there’s no better place to avoid the heat.

• Keep them hydrated: provide clean, cool drinking water in an easily accessible, spill-proof container.

• Provide shade: Ensure your pet has all-day access to a shaded spot with good air flow. For dogs with longer coats, even shaded spots can be too hot during 100 degree plus temps.

• Protect their paws: walk your pet in the early morning or in the evening when the asphalt has cooled down and won’t burn their paws. Place the back of your hand on the ground for five seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet’s paw pads.

• Don’t leave them inside a car: even with the windows cracked, the interior temperature can become deadly within just a couple of minutes.

Signs of heat-related illnesses include lethargy, not eating “high value” treats like chicken, excessive panting or difficult breathing, excessive drooling, bright red gums, rapid pulse, muscle tremors, dry nose, nausea and vomiting. Overweight, geriatric and short-nosed breeds such as pugs and Persian cats are more prone to overheating and owners should not leave outside unattended in the summer.

Anyone who sees a pet suffering from the heat can call 724-5900 and press 4. Due to the impacts of COVID, the shelter is asking residents who find animals to hold healthy, friendly found pets whenever possible. Found pet reports can be made by calling 724-7222. The shelter is still taking in 20 to 45 emergency cases every day.

“Some people don’t know this but most found pets go missing in their own neighborhoods or just a few streets away from their home,” Hassen said. “By keeping the stray in the area where it was found, you are increasing its chances of making it back home.”

The shelter has also changed its day-to-day operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Guests must have an appointment in order to enter the facility. To make an appointment, read up on the current procedure at and on the PACC social media accounts to stay on top of the ever-changing situation.

Residents evacuating their homes on Tucson’s north side due to the Bighorn Fire can also find refuge for their pets at the shelter.

“When you are in the middle of an emergency it can be overwhelming to figure out the best way to take care of your family and pets,” Hassen said. “We want to put folks at ease by helping them with their pets so that they can focus on other things like taking care of the humans in their family.”  

Anyone who needs to make arrangements for their furry friends can call PACC at 724-5961. Room will be made in the facility’s kennels, which has space available due to a high number of fosters.

“Pets are family,” Hassen said. “The shelter is already working hard to make sure these evacuated pets get plenty of enrichment while in our care.”

Residents can bring their dogs, cats, birds, gerbils, hamsters and more. PACC is also working with the Pima County Fairgrounds for additional space. Those with livestock may contact Martina Gonzales at the Rillito Racetrack at (520) 419-2369.

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