Mary and Shane Pennington, of Martinez, say they know this summer's heat is just as dangerous to Bella, their border collie mix, as it is to people.
"We keep her inside all day long in the air conditioning and close the curtains so her cage, which is by the window, doesn't get too hot," Mary said. The couple also lets their dog take a dip in the swimming pool, puts ice in her water dish and leads the pup to drink during brief trips outside because, they say, she forgets to drink at times when her masters are around.
Because of this summer's intense heat, animal control officials are urging pet owners to take similar precautions with their animals to protect them from heat stroke.
Columbia County Animal Care and Control Director Linda Fulmer said pet owners should keep dogs out of direct sunlight, preferably indoors in an air-conditioned room, with plenty of cool water to drink.
"(The heat) is bad enough on humans, but at least with humans they can make a move (for relief) on their own," she said, adding pets should not be walked on hot, impervious surfaces in the heat of the day, where blistering temperatures can burn the pads of their paws.
Fulmer said her department has seen one pet death this summer because of a combination of heat and the dog's inability to get to water.
"It was on a runner and he got tangled up," she said. "In this heat, they're not going to last long."
Temperatures have exceeded 90 degrees all but four days since July 1, and several days have been in triple digits, Frank Wells, a spokesman with the National Weather Service's West Columbia, S.C., office, said Saturday.
According to the Web site of The Humane Society of the United States, dogs are more susceptible to heat than people because their bodies conserve heat. Dogs cool themselves by panting and through sweat glands in their noses and paws, which cannot adequately cool them in extreme heat.
Snub-nosed breeds such as pugs and bulldogs are particular vulnerable, according to the site.
Like children, pets must never be left in a hot car or exposed to the sun in the bed of a pickup, said Columbia County Humane Society President Donna Evans.
She also recommended other means to cool pets off, such as brief trips outside to take a dip in a kiddie pool.
The unrelenting heat has forced the Martinez-based chapter to suspend pet adoptions for the month of August, she said.
Pet adoptions were halted July 29, and if weather conditions improve, the society will resume adoptions in September, she said.
The chapter has about 70 dogs and 20 cats in animal foster homes throughout the county.
Evans cited as factors in the decision the stress an animal experiences when relocated to a new home, the heat and a measure of uncertainty about whether a pet will be kept indoors out of the sun.
"We watch it (the heat) very closely, because we know August is not a good month for animals to be outside," she said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.