HOUSTON — The oppressive heat is not only dangerous for Houston-area residents, it’s also dangerous for their pets.

The Fort Bend County Animal Shelter, like so many locally, was full on Thursday, so some of the animals had to stay in outdoor kennels.

Rene Vasquez, Director of Fort Bend County Animal Services, says a lot of the adjustments his staff is making to care for the animals in hot temperatures also work for pet owners who need to put animals outdoors: keep the animals shaded, provide fresh water more often, and rotate them inside periodically.

“If it gets above 85 (degrees), it gets really hot inside with the tin roof, so we start pro-acting on anything that we can,” said Vasquez.

Vasquez says it’s especially important to keep older dogs and those with thicker, darker fur inside as much as possible.

Workers at Fort Bend County’s shelter have been running large overhead fans and placing portable fans near the kennels, another option for keeping pets cool outside the home.

Volunteers and staff have also been taking the dogs on walks early and late in the day to avoid the hottest temperatures. They also try to keep them on the grass whenever possible.

“If it’s too hot for the palm of your hand for more than three seconds, then technically, the animal should not be walking on that pavement,” said Vasquez.

Another danger: hot vehicles.

“You don’t wanna leave your animal in a car with the windows up,” said Vasquez. “We all know what can happen, even cracked. If it’s 100 outside, it’s probably 150 inside your car. So, that’s one of the big, big topics that we deal with. We deal with that, and obviously, the animals being tied up outside.”

Vasquez says the laws on tethering animals outdoors are different throughout Texas. However, he recommends anyone who sees an animal they believe is in danger call their local animal services department.

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