Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Get Thee to a Cooling Center!--But We Won't Let Your Equally Vulnerable Pets In

Or even understand the question when you call to ask, until you have explained it five or six times.

The cooling centers have been open for a few days. The warnings are getting stronger and stronger--and on Thursday and Friday, the temperature will be hovering around 100, and the dewpoint around 80%. These are severely unhealthy conditions for humans, and not really any better for pets.

But if there's a municipal cooling center that thinks that's any concern of theirs, I haven't found it yet. Definitely not in either Boston or Lawrence, though. Mass211 doesn't know of any, and doesn't think it's their job to have that information, either. I called the MSPCA--they're concerned with animal welfare, right?--and they thought it was "a great question," but had nothing to suggest except that I call around. Gee, thanks.

The Boston office taking cooling center questions suggested I take my dog to the park. To avoid the heat, I should take my dog outside into health-endangering heat and humidity...hmmm. There's a problem with that idea, somewhere.

The ASPCA has a page of suggestions and links for helping your pets avoid heat stroke while enduring the heat.

Almost six years ago, the nation watched in horror as a city drowned in the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina, and adding to the horror were the people forced at gunpoint to leave their pets behind, or who refused to be evacuated without their pets, and died with them. In the aftermath, FEMA, local emergency services and shelters, and national relief organizations had a Eureka moment: If you want to get the people out, you need to get their animals out, too, because people won't leave their pets behind. And most human beings agreed that there's something wrong with a child having his tiny little dog snatched out of his arms and then being forced onto an evacuation bus. So in "we must evacuate" emergencies, things are better now. You can usually take your pets with you.

But apparently no one has stopped to consider whether the people who won't leave their pets behind to escape flood or fire will leave them behind to escape the heat. We're admonished to get ourselves out of the heat. We're admonished to keep our pets safe from heat stroke with a variety of tips and tricks that don't involve actually getting them out of the heat.

And no public health officials, no public safety officials, and apparently not even any animal welfare people with any resources or authority, think it's any concern of theirs if these two things are contradictory.

I'd hoped to be posting a list of places you could go to be safe from the heat with your pets, but it seems that is not to be. I've got an invitation from a friend which I'll be taking advantage of. Another, non-local, friend suggested getting together with other friends with compatible pets, and renting a room in a pet-friendly hotel or motel. A third provided the ASPCA link.

Good luck in the heat.

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