Soaring summer temperatures have brought a rash of dog deaths to the Valley and alarmed animal rights activists.
Arizona Humane Society spokeswoman Kimberly Noetzel said that on Thursday alone, emergency animal medical technicians responded to three incidents in Phoenix in which six dogs died after being left outside in the summer heat.
Apache Junction police reported a seventh death in Pinal County on the same day.
Noetzel said all the neglected animals in Maricopa County had been left outside with no access to shade or water, and their body temperatures had risen to more than 109 degrees Fahrenheit by the time rescue workers discovered them dead.
The owners of these animals could face criminal charges of cruelty to animals, Noetzel said.
“This is an outrage,” she said. “Pet owners must protect their pets from the heat or their animals will die.”
Noetzel said that the majority of such cases go unreported, but the humane society still receives about 10 calls every day during the summer. She said about 50 percent of these calls turn out to be fatalities.
“Any companion animal without access to shade and water is in great danger,” Noetzel said. “Keep them indoors.”
The issue has caught the attention of other animal rights activists.
Rebecca Schneider of Mesa will join more than 100 others nationwide in a demonstration that will start today and continue for two weeks. Schneider will leash herself outside her Mesa home for 16 hours on July 4 to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving unaccompanied animals outdoors.
She said many dogs in her neighborhood are left chained outside for hours in the summer heat.
The Arizona Humane Society advises neighbors to call police or humane society operators at (602) 997-7586 if they suspect animal neglect.