It is disturbing hiking in the Preserve during the broiling hot summer months when people bring their dogs either out of ignorance or because they think their dog is physically fit.
I have been researching how heat affects dogs, and it is rather scary. When a dog is in distress, professionals urge owners to get their dog in the shade as soon as possible, wet it down with cool wet towels on their head and paws and use a fan. As we know, that’s not possible in the Preserve, because there is very little shade.
I don’t want to shame dog owners.
I think it would be a fair compromise to have a curfew where dogs would need to be out of the Preserve by 9 a.m. April through October.
That way, those who love to hike with their dogs still have a window of several hours to hike. Responsible dog owners are going to get out early anyway, and this curfew would minimize needless suffering and deaths. It’s a win-win for everyone.
There were several deaths in the Preserve last year and that doesn’t address countless dogs with burned paws and other physical complications, sometimes resulting in death.
More importantly, we need to protect dogs that don’t have a voice nor a choice. We have to do something!
Keep in mind:
• Dogs can only expel heat through their paws and by panting;
• Heat stroke is not easily recognizable to pet owners;
• If you can’t hold the back of your hand on the ground for five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws;
• Dogs can’t handle high heat and humidity;
• There is no dog accustomed to the heat;
• The Arizona Humane Society receives up to 50 calls a day in the summer for animal rescues and investigations;
• Just one of many emergency vet clinics sees five or more heat-stressed dogs a week.
A newspaper article from last September quoted Yvonne Massman, natural resources coordinator with the City of Scottsdale, who said “The city will possibly prosecute you for animal cruelty so it is not like we need a second ordinance in place.”
Seriously? This makes no sense to me when death or injury and needless suffering can be prevented, or at least significantly reduced, with a curfew.
It’s also not fair to Stewards who witness dogs in distress and have possible confrontations with dog owners.
Speaking of hundreds of our highly regarded Steward volunteers, they are responsible for picking up hundreds of bags of dog excrement every week left behind on the trails, which is not right. This is one of the reasons dogs were banned from Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak.
My hope is that Scottsdale will pass a resolution to modify summer Preserve hours for dogs.
Additionally, we need to adopt a similar ban in Scottsdale in regards to walking dogs when it’s over 100 degrees. People should be fined for walking their dogs when it’s over 90 degrees in Scottsdale.
Officers should stop ignorant people from walking their dogs on the hot pavement in full sun and have a chat with them as well.
The death and suffering of one dog is one too many.
Emily Austin is a Scottsdale resident.