Rescuing dogs in the heat: A ride-along with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control

The triple digits and excessive heat are tough on Arizonans, and they're brutal on the animals that live on the street. 

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control field officer Sarah Krawiec's job is to rescue stray and injured dogs - it's a tough one, made even more difficult by the Arizona summer heat.

"Most of the dogs we're picking up right now are showing some form of heat exhaustion," Krawiec said. "Generally, they are panting, they start foaming at the mouth, and they can have seizures." 

When we rode along, her first call was in Buckeye.

"The dog has a laceration, sounds like from either an animal fight or was beaten," the officer said.  "So basically, what we are doing is making contact with the person who made the call to see if the dog is still there." 

Krawiec whistles, walking around the area and talking to the woman who made the report. "The owner didn't come, you think?"

It's barely 9 am, and the temperature is already a grueling 100 degrees. Because of this, foot searches are kept short.

The officer gets in her truck and keeps looking.

"Here is where the hard part [begins] because you have all the desert, she can be anywhere, unfortunately," she said. 

She eventually leaves with the promise to return if the dog does the same. There are more calls to get to.

"I was calling to confirm if that German Shepherd was still outside your guys' business," Krawiec says on the phone.

Our FOX 10 photographer spotted the German Shepherd in question when we arrived at the business park in the area of 45th Avenue and Buckeye.

The dog is outrunning us all, and because Maricopa County Animal Care and Control has strict guidelines in this heat, dogs on the run can't be chased for more than a few minutes. It can be deadly.

"So when we show up, if the dog is already showing signs of distress, panting heavily, and he takes off, he's already hot. So we don't pursue," Krawiec explained. "We tell people not to pursue, leave them water, and we will try first thing in the morning."

A stray German Shepherd.

A stray German Shepherd.

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control has two teams of 10 officers, plus two leads in the field, three dispatchers, and five ramp officers. They can take in upwards of 19 dogs on a busy day. 

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The day we were here, they took in six, including the pug we picked up with Officer Krawiec.

"I found her at Starlight Park," said a woman who made the report. "There were two other dogs on the park property, so I went up to see if they were okay. Right at that point, she comes running up to play with my dogs. There were two huskies. When she got too close to the huskies, they showed aggressive behavior." 

No microchip, no collar, and the pug was loaded onto the truck.

"It's about 60 to 70 degrees in the kennel," said the officer. "We do check on them about every hour or so to make sure the air conditioning is working." 

Officer Krawiec says once they're off the street, the dogs have a greater chance of surviving this weather, possibly getting reunited with their owners or adopted.