It’s 1pm and about 39°C on a stinking hot January day as we stand in the RSPCA’s dog training paddock watching their rescue dog ‘Mate’, who has the right idea, frolicking about in a clam shell pool as five of us take turns playing fetch with the playful pup.
With Canberra in the thick of a summer heatwave, it’s all hands on deck at the RSPCA ACT’s Weston facility as their dedicated team of staff and volunteers are out helping Mate and the scores of animals housed in the shelter keep cool in trying conditions.
Animal care manager Simon Yates says one of their best assets is the misting sprinklers that are draped over many of the kennels, aviaries and rabbit areas.
“Keeping that cooler water trickling through is a huge factor,” he says.
“Ice is our friend, we put ice blocks in the water bowls,” RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson says. “That’s something people can do at home too; it’s easy and it goes a long way to cooling them down.”
There’s a big human component at the RSPCA too, with their staff and volunteers outside throughout the day.
“We have to be very sun smart, everyone’s got their sunblock on, hats, and are well watered,” Ms Robertson says.
She urges pet owners to never leave your pet in the car; the advice comes on the back of a number of reports of dogs being left unattended in cars in Canberra this summer.
“In six minutes, a car can get hot enough for your animal to die, and leaving the window down doesn’t make a difference.
“Also, don’t exercise your animals in the heat of the day; they would rather skip a day. Do it early on before it gets really hot, and make sure you keep them well watered,” she says.
With four consecutive days recording a maximum above 40°C on 15-18 January and more extremely hot weather predicted, we can all take note from the RSPCA and look after ourselves and our loved ones – pets and people.