Mid-May heat wave catches pets & pools off guard

May 13, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
During a summertime heat wave, Fresno city pools would be open and free for anyone wanting to cool off. But because these hundred degree days are coming in the middle of May, the options for cooling down are limited.

It's pouring at Dickey Park in Central Fresno, even as the sun burns down on the city, raising temperatures up near a hundred again Monday. The city activated splash parks this week as one way to beat the heat. Cooling centers won't be an option until later in the year, when the heat lasts longer and the nights don't cool off naturally.

"Last year, we looked at the cooling centers after we had four days of over 105 degree heat," said Fresno emergency director Beth Brown. "That's by no means the only barometer by which we measure when we open cooling centers. A lot of it has to do with demand too. We need to hear from people that they need it."

Overheated pets are already a problem, though. Clovis police got several calls over the weekend of animals locked in vehicles, and several for dogs left in the bed of pickup trucks. They say many pet owners don't even know that can be a problem.

"They think it's open and so, airy, but what they don't realize is, the bed of the truck can become very hot and the dogs can burn their feet, as well as the direct sunlight on them can continue to cause a heat stroke," said Clovis Police Animal Services supervisor Betty Cochran.

Jumping dogs heat up quickly, but at the Clovis animal shelter, fans and swamp coolers chill out the adoptable animals.

In parking lots across the Valley, though, the sudden heat wave has caught many people off guard, forgetting they have vulnerable pets on board.

"And like a baby, they can't say, 'Hey, it's too hot in here for me. I'm slowly dying, which is obviously not okay,'" Cochran said.

Leaving your pet in the car can lead to fines and even criminal charges in some cases.

Meanwhile, a city spokesman tells me Fresno city pools won't open until sometime next month. Until then, you'll have to find other ways to cool down.