Protect your dog from summer heat, noises

Diego took off during Monday’s thunderstorm & was gone about 20 hours. Loud noises & heat can stress out dogs. Photo courtesy Kevin Ritchie.

Heat, thunderstorms, fireworks – what’s a dog to do?

“Diego, who’s a 70 pound Golden Retriever, just ripped the leash out of her hand and ran.”

Southeast Alaska seldom gets electrical storms, and the loud claps of thunder on Monday sent Kevin and Barbara Ritchie’s dog on a 20-hour outing.

They were returning to Perseverance Trail parking lot when the storm hit.

“He turned onto the flume and never stopped,” Ritchie says.

They searched, asked friends to look; had Juneau radio stations, including KTOO, put the word out; called Animal Control, and sent Facebook messages.

About 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Diego showed up.

“He came out of the woods limping and got on somebody’s back porch and wanted some help,” Ritchie says.  He showed up at Jon Tillinghast’s house in what’s known as the Highlands.

Ritchie says Diego has not been a dog that normally reacts to loud noises, but the thunderbolts were something many Juneau dogs haven’t heard before.

Diego wasn’t the only dog to take off, according to Animal Control Director Matt Musslewhite.

“And it’s probably a good reminder that fireworks season is coming up. Maybe it’d be a good time to start making plans for alternate places to have your pooch stay during the fireworks on the fourth,” he says.

Musslewhite says Animal Control gets busy the night of July 3rd with reports of pets that have escaped their owners.

“During the night of the third, it’s probably loud enough to rattle windows in some parts of town,” he says. Not only are the fireworks over Gastineau Channel loud, but lots of residents shoot off their own.  It’s a very stressful time for dogs that are hypersensitive to certain noises.

Then there’s the unusually high temperatures Juneau has had.

Musslewhite says officers often get calls on hot days for welfare checks on dogs in vehicles.

“The hottest one I’ve seen here was an outside temperature of somewhere around 80 degrees and an internal temperature in the car of 136 (degrees Fahrenheit),” he says.  “And that was with windows rolled up and that was actually late in the morning, so it didn’t have the full day to heat up.”

Just like humans, animals can succumb to heat stroke.

It’s better to leave your pet at home on hot days. If you must take Fido, park in the shade, provide plenty of fresh water, and, of course, make sure windows are open enough that fresh air will flow through the vehicle but the animal cannot escape.

Musslewhite also reminds pet owners that city law requires dogs and cats be licensed.  He says that process helps reunite lost pets with their owners.

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