Pets suffer through Houston's sizzling temperatures

HOUSTON - People aren't the only ones suffering in Houston's heat. Pets are, too, and sometimes people don't do what's needed to protect them.

Gizmo has already suffered a lot in his short life. Houston Police Department animal cruelty officers rescued the 5-month-old puppy that was locked up in a hot car for more than an hour. The temperature inside the car was a dangerous 108 degrees.

"Summertime is the busiest time of the year for animal cruelty prosecution," said Belinda Smith, the Harris County District Attorney's Office Animal Cruelty chief. "That's because of the heat."

If convicted of animal cruelty charges, pet owners could spend up to a year in jail and pay a $4,000 fine.

"The emergency clinic sees quite a few cases," said Tony Malone, chief veterinarian at the Bureau of Animal Care and Regulation. "We saw six heat strokes just this weekend."

Pet owners can face criminal animal cruelty charges for leaving their pets in hot cars, not providing water for them throughout the entire day or leaving them outside in the extreme heat without shade or shelter.

In this extreme Houston heat, pet owner Roger Klaff said he makes sure his dog stays safe and cool.

"She's my second daughter," said Klaff.

Veterinarian Lori Teller said she is treating more pets for heat exhaustion and blistering, burned paws.

"We'll see dogs that can't cool down," said Teller. "Panting, rapid heart rate ... that's a sign your dog's been stressed."

Teller said pet owners need to watch out for serious heat stroke.

"If people notice vomiting, diarrhea, that's the first sign of shock in a dog," she said.

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