Between the pandemic and the riots, I’m sure we were all hoping to avoid a wildfire this year. But not so.
As of July 12, the Ojo de los Casos fire is 38 percent contained and has burned 180 acres. So far, no evacuations have been necessary.
Along with the fires on the ground, that fire in the sky is beating down on us, too. In August 2016, Paw it Forward was dedicated to both wildfire preparedness, and caring for our animals in extreme heat. Now seemed like a good time for a recap. Here goes.
On an 85-degree day, asphalt can reach 140 degrees. Eggs fry at 131 degrees. So … walk your dogs early in the morning or later at night when (if) the temperatures go down. Or just skip the walk and spend some time together. Remember that the skin on their paw pads is no thicker than the skin on our feet, and thermal burns, minor or severe, can occur at that temperature in one minute.
Outdoor pets need lots of water — and shade. Being inside a structure doesn’t mean you’re in the shade, so a shed or dog house in full sun doesn’t count. Like us, animals can suffer from heat exhaustion and heatstroke. If your pet has been exposed to high temperatures, get them to a cool place right away. Watch for excessive thirst, lack of coordination or diarrhea, and if you’re seeing any of these things, call your vet right away.
Heatstroke can start out as restlessness, panic and excessive panting but can progress to lethargy, seizures and death in as little as 15 minutes. That’s also why it’s not OK to leave your dog in the car while you “run into the store for a minute.” Even on an 80 degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 100 degrees in just 10 minutes — hot enough to start frying a brain. Leave your kiddos at home where they’re safe.
Last August in Albuquerque, a good samaritan rescued a dog from a hot car outside a restaurant by breaking the window with a crow bar. The dog survived, the owner faced fines and jail time, and APD told both KRQE and KOB TV that the good samaritan’s actions were legal. Laws differ from state to state, but life and death are the same everywhere.
If you see a dog in a vehicle, here’s the protocol: look at the dog, and your watch; attempt to locate the owner (you could just yell, or ask store personnel to announce it); call 911; try the doors in case they’re not locked; and, if you need to break in, use only the force necessary to get the animal out (that is, don’t break all the windows!)
Laws differ across the nation so you might catch some flack, but as the young man in the story said, “I didn’t want to break that guy’s window, but at the same time, I also didn’t want to see a dog die.” His girlfriend also recorded the entire thing on her phone. Smart.
And if you don’t have a crow bar handy, there’s a tool called Resqme (rescue me) available on line for about 10 bucks. Handy for rescuing animals — or you if your electric windows short out.
Last time, I shared some tips from the American Red Cross, HSUS, Department of Homeland Security and APNM on preparing for wildfires. Here they are again:
Assemble a pet emergency kit that includes food and water for at least 3 days, litter, poop bags, towels, bedding and toys. Put copies of medical records and any current medications in a large zip-lock bag, along with photos of your pet — preferably one with you in it to prove ownership.
Make sure your pet wears a collar with their name and your contact info, and repeat this info on leashes, harnesses and carriers. And remember, always keep your pet in a secure container or harness — a freaked-out animal can escape from you in a heartbeat.
Duffle bags, backpacks, plastic bins and small coolers for items that have to be kept cold make good containers for all this stuff — easy to grab, keep track of and reassemble later.
Lastly, plan how you will assemble everyone, and where you’ll go. Check resources ahead of time, like motels, shelters, family and friends. And finally, set up a “buddy system” with neighbors or friends who can care for or evacuate your pets if you’re not able to. Stay safe everyone.