Starting in July, people can no longer hike in the Phoenix mountain parks and preserves with their dog if the temperature is 100 degrees or more.
Under the pilot program, which went into effect July 1 and runs through Sept. 1, someone who disobeys the rule could be cited for a Class One misdemeanor, be fined up to $2,500 and receive up to six months jail time. Phoenix officials say they will emphasize the educational aspect of the program and not the punitive measures.
Off limits Phoenix trails
In addition, the city has made Cholla Trail in central phoenix off limits to dogs altogether. Too many dogs have been off leash or in danger for heat distress on that particular trail, city officials say. Also, many people didn’t pick up after their dogs either.
Cholla, Piestewa Peak and Echo Canyon trails are Phoenix’s no-dogs-allowed trails. Anyone with a dog on Cholla trail faces the same fines and punishment as those who hike with their dogs if it is more than 100 degrees outside.
Phoenix officials said they have been more reports of dogs being in distress on the trails during this really hot summer. Already this year, six people have died on trails and there have been anecdotal reports of dogs dying but there are few statistics to back that up.
Heat is deadly for dogs
The city of Glendale reported in 2011 that three dogs passed away on trails. The only way the city knew about those deaths was because the fire department was called to help the dogs. “For everyone incident reported, we believe there are dozens of animal fatalities that we don’t hear about,’’ said Sue Breding, Glendale spokeswoman.
For many, it is really a matter of educating people how dangerous the Phoenix summertime heat is to pets. The Arizona Humane Society says it receives up to 50 calls a day during the summer for animal rescues and investigations and up to half of those involve no shelter or water for animals outside.