Extreme heat leads to rise in animal neglect calls, ACS says

Veterinary hospital visits are up too

Animal Care Services reported two deaths from pets left outside in the extreme heat. Officials say they are seeing a rise in animal neglect calls this time of year.

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Animal Care Services says officers are seeing the number of pet neglect complaints related to heat increase as the Alamo City experiences record-high temperatures this summer.

Aimee De Contreras, field operations manager for Animal Care Services, said she is concerned about the high number of neglect calls during this heat wave.

“People will have animals outside, sometimes just in the sun without shade is what we see a lot,” she said.

Since May, ACS has seen a 26% increase in neglect calls, primarily tied to the heat. Two dogs left outside have died this summer, ACS officials said.

“If it’s too hot for humans and we’re getting hot, animals are outside all day,” De Contreras said.

Right now, there is a zero-tolerance policy, and people will be ticketed if an ACS officer discovers they are being neglectful with their pets.

Even well-intentioned people make mistakes with their pets, says veterinarian Rachael Smith with Animal Hospital San Antonio.

“Every vet in town has seen dogs burned, paws walking on the cement,” she said. “I had a woman who came in and wanted a necropsy on her dog. Why did he die? The internal body temperature was over 120. He cooked.”

Smith said the best thing for people to do is keep their pets inside and try to walk them during the morning when there is less sunshine or late at night. Don’t take pets hiking on hot days, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion.

“Once your pet’s in that position where we’re talking heat exhaustion, it’s an emergency visit. We’re going to lose your pet, so there’s no time to waste,” Smith said.

Both Smith and De Contreras strongly urge people to leave their pets at home in a cool area and ensure they have water access. Don’t take them to run errands with you.

If your dog is an outside pet, make room for them inside the house so they can have a place to cool off.

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Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.