Dog days of summer are 'ruff' on the Humane Society

Humane Society struggling to keep pets cool
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | 8:36 p.m. CDT; updated 8:12 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Allison Toth, shelter relations coordinator at the Central Missouri Humane Society, mists a labrador retriever named Sweetie in an effort to keep her cool despite the climbing temperature inside the CMHS's temporary shelter on Tuesday. The heat index for Columbia on Tuesday reached 110 degrees.

The address of the temporary Humane Society building has been corrected.

COLUMBIA — Black lab mix Millie shook her fur and lapped at the air, trying to take in some water from a spray bottle Tuesday afternoon. The spritz was cool relief in the uncooled metal warehouse where the Central Missouri Humane Society keeps Millie and about 40 other dogs.

Some dogs welcome the spray from shelter relations coordinator Allison Toth, but others shy away. Breezy, an overweight beagle, prefers to nap on the concrete floor, which, while not cold, is not as hot as the air temperature.

Pet heat safety tips

How to tell if your pet is in danger of a heat stroke:

  • If your cat is panting (cats rarely pant).
  • If a pet's gums are bright red, brick red, bluish or purplish instead of pink.
  • If a dog is panting uncontrollably or frantically.
  • If your pet is looking extremely listless or dazed in the heat.

If your pet shows these symptoms:

  • Give it cool water.
  • Place a cool, wet towel on it.
  • Place it near a fan or in an air-conditioned space. 
  • Bring it to an emergency veterinary clinic. 

Other tips for pets in the heat:

  • Limit your pet's outdoor activity, and don't encourage your dog to do its favorite activity in the heat. It'll usually go until it drops.
  • Don't leave your pet in a car, even if the window is open slightly. The temperature inside a car can become deadly extremely quickly. 
  • Give your pet a haircut. Shaving long-haired pets can help to keep them cooler in the heat.
  • If possible, let your dogs play in water, in kiddie pools, sprinklers or lakes and ponds.

Source: Dr. Richard Meadows and the Central Missouri Humane Society

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“Sometimes I feel like I’m torturing them,” Toth said, joking about the dogs that shy away from the spray bottle.

The Central Missouri Humane Society has made a temporary home since May in the Mid-City Lumber Building, 2105 Paris Road. Its permanent location at 616 Big Bear Blvd. is undergoing Zootoo-funded renovations; only finishing touches remain before the people and the animals can move back in within the next few weeks.

"It's definitely not ideal," Toth said. "It’s hasn’t been much of a problem until these 90-plus, 100-plus temperatures."

Life wasn't overly hard for the cats and rabbits that were housed in the front part of the building until a few weeks ago when the air conditioning stopped working. Now, they have to settle for fans.

The dogs in the metal warehouse can’t seem to catch a break, though. Tuesday, the waist-high fan that used to blow in air from the warehouse’s open garage door stopped spinning.

And though there are a few fans working in the kennels, they're not enough to relieve the kind of heat that soaks a T-shirt with sweat within minutes. As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the heat index in Columbia was 107 degrees Fahrenheit. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning through Friday.

Heat such as this can create dangerous conditions for pets, said Richard Meadows, director of the community practice at MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He said cats and dogs are less heat-tolerant than humans for two main reasons:

  • They don’t sweat much, other than through the pads of their feet and the tips of their noses.
  • They pant to lose heat, but it’s a less efficient cooling method than sweating.

“If it’s too hot for you to be outside, it’s too hot for your pets to be outside, because they’re wearing a fur coat,” Meadows said.

In addition to fans and the occasional sprays from bottles, Humane Society staff are trying to keep the dogs safe by brushing them, ensuring they have cool, fresh water and taking them out for walks.

Even the treats are intended to refresh: the staff feeds the rabbits chilled carrots, lettuce or fruit from time to time.

One lucky cat, Buffy, was relieved of some hair Monday because her fur was matted. The “lion head” cut left her with a long tail, the fur on her head and a whole lot less fur on her body. Toth said the haircut came at a good time considering the heat wave.

“She is so much more playful now,” she said. “I think she’s embarrassed, but she seems happier and a lot cooler.”

Toth said the employees and volunteers have increased their diligence in monitoring the animals. If they notice a dog panting excessively, they take it out of the warehouse, point a fan directly at it and give it ice. She also emphasized the importance of maintaining fresh, cool water for the animals.

Humane Society Manager Nick Holman acknowledges that there’s more to it, but he jokingly summarizes the shelter's plan of action during the heat wave: “Just add water.”

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Carlos Sanchez August 11, 2010 | 8:10 a.m.

If the fire department has any spare exhaust fans in storage they should be volunteered over to CMHS during this crisis. Does MU Ag or their farms have any spare cooling fans available as well? Somebody around the community must have some spare fans somewhere of industrial quality.

(Report Comment)
Joe Overlease August 11, 2010 | 3:58 p.m.

Central Missouri Shelter is violating th law!

What a double standard this is..
I hate Hypocrites!

Just let a Missouri breeder have his animals in such substandard facility we would be written up and fined in a heart beat.

These clowns are making a joke out of the torture they are dishing out to these animals.

As a breeder I am insulted by these animal rights people who protest against legal breeders and try to pass legislation for us to "improve our care program" then make a joke out of the misery and suffering they are handing out
to dogs under their care.

You people suck


I called to file a complaint with Boone County Animal Control. Spoke with Molly Faust she claimed to be the supervisor, I doubt it as she was rude and very abrasive with me.

She told me the Shelter does not have to meet any of the Animal Welfare Act Requirements and if they did she was not going to take a complaint on them anyway nor investigate any complaint on them.

She told me to call the state so I did. (But I already had called the state, they were very professional and demonstrated concern for the dogs, a state inspector to my understanding has been dispatched to investigate and hopefully close and seize all the animals just like they did last month, for the same reason "Sub standard facilities" )

We can not have this type of double standards. I asked Ms. Faust, if they had killed these dogs they did not seem to want to be caring for, she retorted " I don't care what they do with their animals if they want to kill them it is their business not mine.

Just look at the picture of that dog languishing in the heat... probably close to death if not dead.

Well there you have it Missouri a breeder reporting on the animal welfare people... And they want to pass laws to make us improve... Please Missouri do not be fooled by these horrible people.

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 11, 2010 | 7:30 p.m.

Dude they are at a temp shelter at this time until the old one is renovated. Instead of back handing them try to jump in and help them. Geeesshhh.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 11, 2010 | 7:58 p.m.

The lumber building looks like a large barn.
I wonder if something like this might help.
They've been used at fairs and in circus tents.
("The MicroCool® outdoor cooling system produces a 10-micron (one tenth the size of a human hair) water droplet. This droplet instantly evaporates upon contact with hot, dry air, resulting in a cooling of the air temperature. The system causes no wetting or noticeable increase in humidity.")
At best, the animals and the volunteers/staff should be moved to cooler spaces.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 11, 2010 | 9:21 p.m.

Joe, if you want to rail on someone online, might be best to get their name. And if the state takes the dogs from CMHS, where do you propose to put them? Your house? If people would take care of their pets and not allow them to breed willy-nilly, the shelter wouldn't even have those dogs.

Ray, Flat Branch is reporting on their Facebook page that they donated three large floor fans to CMHS that they used to recover from a cooler incident of some kind, so hopefully things are a bit better. If not, maybe Joe can put some money where his mouth is.

(Report Comment)
Joe Overlease August 13, 2010 | 1:31 p.m.

John and Ray

You fellows don't seem to be stupid.. And I know your are not. The point is the AWA applies to all not just a few.
Breeders have had exactly the same thing happen to them and they have been fined and in some cases lost their dogs to the overzealous AR people.

So why is it.. you fellows want to help with donations and if a breeder needs help you want to put them in jail?

As a society we must learn to come to the aid of all people and animals. Missouri law does provide for breeders to take the dogs in from any case where a foster home is needed. An we too can charge the owner for the care and transportation costs. We have plenty of breeders who will accept all of these violators dogs. "In a heartbeat" Something you should not forget.

Now in regards to who is responsible for these dogs, the Missouri breeders are no more responsible for all of these Ferrel dogs and cats, Than General Motors is for junkyards.

Individual people wreck their cars not the auto maker.
People abandon or abuse their animals not the breeders.

Like I said before "you guys are not stupid".. Why have not figured this out for yourself?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 13, 2010 | 1:39 p.m.

Joe, the only alternative to housing the dogs in that shed is to give each and every one of them a needle in the paw. Several times a day, the CMHS sends e-mails to its Yahoo volunteer list asking for fosters, who can handle only so many. If you can house the all of those dogs until the remodeled facility opens late next week, please contact CMHS ASAP. Otherwise, you're barking up the wrong tree.

(Report Comment)
Kelly Ross August 13, 2010 | 3:03 p.m.

Joe: what you really should have figured out for yourself is that you are a for-profit operation and CMHS is a non-profit organization. Otherwise known as not doing it for their own benefit. Makes a big difference, and since you are talking about who's smart and who's's feral.

(Report Comment)

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