The record temperatures this week bring a record number of phone calls to Ingham County Animal Control of concerned neighbors complaining about animal heat exhaustion. The county has five Animal Control officers. Deputies say the number of calls has tripled and the hot temperatures can mean life or death for man's best friend.
"This past week I've probably been on 20 calls or so where animals are in direct sunlight tied in the middle of a backyard with no water," said Juan Delatorre, the Animal Cruelty Investigator for Ingham County Animal Control. "I've actually had a couple calls where by the time we get there the animals are deceased, and owners can be brought up on charges for that and it's something that's easily preventable."
Delatorre would normally have today off. Instead he's working mandatory overtime to help resolve a flood of animal heat exhaustion complaints.
"Most people, they tend to leave their dogs out for the whole time they are at work and within eight hours with this hot weather most of the animals drink that within the first hour or two," said Delatorre.
I ride along with him as he follows up on some complaints. We travel to a home where we find two dogs. One is loose, the other is on a chain stuck in direct sunlight, in a patch of ground covered in dust, rather than grass. There is a medal bowl with dust in it, not water. No one is home.
"Obviously the dog has no water. You know, it could have been tipped. He could have drank it all, this is absolutely unsanitary conditions right not, it's unacceptable," says Delatorre.
There is trash and garbage on the ground and in a can near where the dog is chained. There were two dogs at the residence. Delatorre took both.
Ingham County Animal Control says it is crucial animals have water and shelter, especially when the temperatures rise.
As Delatorre gives the once chained dog water, the dog quickly slurps it up excitedly.
"You can definitely tell that he hasn't had water in a long time," Delatorre says.
Animal heat exhaustion occurs frequently, despite steep penalties.
"It's a felony. If an animal dies and you left it in your car, we are going to prosecute because you knowingly left your dog in your car," said Anne Burns, the Deputy Director of the Ingham County Animal Control.
In addition to a felony, a person can be put in prison for up to four years and fined up to $5,000 if they abuse an animal.
Cats and dogs don't sweat, instead they pant. When the temperatures rise it is that much more important they they have shade and water.
Lucky for the dogs we found, they now have shade, water, and even air conditioning.