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Texas leads heat-related pet deaths

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Averaging 15 days of 100° or hotter a year, Austin is no stranger to dangerous heat. In fact, 90° weather typically begins at the end of May, marking the start of a long three-plus months of uncomfortable heat.

Now while humans can be proactive in staying cool when the thermometers rise, pets rely on their owners for safety in extreme heat.

Meteorologist Kristen Currie spoke with Lily Velez with Veterinarians.org to discuss some of the reasons Texas sees more heat-related pet deaths than any other state.

Below is a transcript of their discussion. Edits have been made for clarity.

Kristen Currie, KXAN News: We have some troubling news when it comes to heat-related pet deaths here in Texas. Joining me today to talk about that from Veterinarians.org is Lily Velez. Lily, let’s start with this study that you guys were a part of. When it comes to Texas — how do we rank among other states?

Lily Velez, Veterinarians.orgSo what we did is collect a compilation of news and police reports that had occurred across the nation over a five-year period. We analyzed heat-related pet deaths that were specifically the result of neglect or abandonment or abuse. Unfortunately, what we found is that Texas topped this ranking with 40 pet deaths over the span of this period (five years), which was actually six times the national average.

Currie: Is there any standout reason as to why Texas came in on top?

Velez: There were three things we saw. So first of all, animals being confined in a vehicle, a lot of times you’re seeing people actually leaving the air conditioning on. But unfortunately, it just so happened on those days, the air conditioner malfunctioned.

We also saw cases where people left animals in the backyard thinking that it was perfectly fine as long as they were outside and exposed to the air. But unfortunately, in extreme heat conditions, especially when we’re talking about days when it’s over 90°, that air temperature can rise rapidly. If the dog doesn’t have ample shade or if it doesn’t have ample water, that’s a dangerous condition for the animal to be in.And finally, what we’re also seeing is dogs are being walked during certain times of day. A lot of times, people don’t take into account the temperature of the pavement because we’re wearing sneakers or wearing socks, so our own feet are protected. But unfortunately, on a 90-degree day, the temperature of the pavement can easily reach over 130°. That’s hot enough to burn a dog’s paws. So what we try to tell people is if you’re not sure if it’s safe for your dog to be walking on the sidewalk or the street, take your hand and put it to the pavement for about five to 10 seconds. If at any point you have to retract your hand, then it’s definitely too hot for your dog to be walking during that time. You’ll want to instead walk them in the early mornings and evenings, but definitely don’t walk them during that time, especially the 12 to 5 p.m. period.

Source: kxan