WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Hot and overheated, Wake County Animal Control officers took a long-haired canine into custody in the eastern part of the county on Wednesday.
"The dog was panting, and I think its temperature was obviously up," said Andre Pierce with Wake County Environmental Services. "We thought the dog was in some distress."
A neighbor first complained that the dog was left outside day after day in the heat without enough shade. Officials left a message for the owner. After a day and no response from the pet owner, animal control officers took the dog because its condition fell under animal cruelty.
According to Wake County ordinances, pet owners are only required to provide food, water and shelter.
"Shelter could just be the dog house, but they need more than that," said veterinarian Dr. Bob Bush. "The dog house ... gets to be a hot house in weather like this."
Durham and Johnston Counties have stricter ordinances for pet care. In addition to food, water and shelter, Durham County also requires pets be protected from extremely hot or cold temperatures. Johnston County's ordinance requires shade.
Bush said dogs are especially prone to heat problems.
"Dogs don't sweat, so it doesn't take much heat to overheat," he said.
When the temperature is above 95 degrees, Bush said the basics don't cut it. Dogs need good shade, and Bush suggested a fan to keep them cool. Dogs with long hair have the most trouble staying cool.
If a dog is suffering from heat exhaustion, the best and most immediate thing to do is douse them with room-temperature water.
Animal control officials are still waiting to hear from the pet owner in the alleged cruelty case, but they said the owner wouldn't be criminally charged. Instead, officers said they would first try to work with the owner to take better care of his dog.