Loose dogs, neglected dogs, dogs suffering in the heat have come to the attention of city officials in St. John, and the same could be said for other towns all over Kansas.
Concern over dogs being left out in the heat prompted St. John City Clerk Jamie Getty to post a warning to pet owners on the City of St. John Kansas Facebook site earlier this week, along with Summer Safety Tips for Dogs.
“We’ve been having an alarming number of dog calls over the past couple of week,” Getty said. “Please, remember the responsibility that comes with being a dog owner. Make sure your dog has a cool shaded place to stay with plenty of water - or better yet - take them inside!”
Pratt Veterinarian Dr. Clinton Skaggs of Pratt Veterinary Hospital who occasionally sees pets from St. John, where there is no resident veterinarian agreed with Getty that is was dangerous to leave pets out in the heat, especially in a car or place they could not access shade and water.
“Never leave pets in a car – it’ll cook ‘em,” Skaggs said. “Shade and fresh water are the most important.”
Skaggs also said dog owners should be careful not to overdo exercise. Those that enjoy walking or running during the summer with their pets should do that early in morning, he said.
Other safety tips posted by Getty on the St. John Facebook page included adding ice to water bowls and assuring they are kept full and assuring that pets are up-to-date on flea and tick medications.
Dog owners should also watch for signs of heat stroke, including heavy panting, vomiting and lethargy and to seek medical care immediately.
“I am absolutely disgusted at the high number of dogs I see in this area who are left outside 24/7 in unacceptable conditions...many times with no visible source of water or food...in blazing heat, brutal cold, driving rains, with little human contact,’” St. John resident Suzanne Gervais said Tuesday.
Gervais, who moved to St. John 15 years ago and is currently on furlough from her work at Larned State Prison, said in a phone interview that she has become a self-appointed animal advocate.
“It’s been an issue since I moved here,” said Gervais, who shares her home with a Saint Bernard and daschund, who join her on frequent walks.
“Weather is a concern and so in the lack of human interaction,” Gervais said. “They pace in their pens, howl and cry, desperate for any kind of attention...it’s heartbreaking. This has been a peeve of mine for many years in this city. It’s just AWFUL and nothing seems to change it.”
St. John has an ordinance on the books that calls for registration of dogs and cats and limits households to four dogs, according to Getty, who said there are currently 85 registered dogs or cats from an estimated 500-plus St. John households.
There is also a cruelty to animal ordinance which specifies requirements for food, water and shelter, but does not address the issue of heat, Getty said.
St. John also has an “animal at large” ordinance which carries up to a $100 fine if there is a conviction.
“If a complaint is filed, an officer is sent to investigate,” Getty said.
Dogs found on the loose in St. John or suffering from neglect may be picked up by local law enforcement and taken to the city pound. As there are only three available cage pens there, overcrowding is a problem.