WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The summer heat is not easy.
And it's especially a challenge for Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.
With no central air in the main dog kennels, ACC recently launched a new portable system to protect their animals.
Last year, high temperatures, hot dogs, and a public outcry forced the shelter to find better solutions for their dogs. In August 2018, WPTV measured temperatures inside the kennels at 91 degrees during the daytime.
In September, the Palm Beach County commission addressed the issue at a meeting and asked ACC to fit air conditioning into their budget.
“Animals can handle heat better than humans can but there reaches a point that you go this is not acceptable and the public was largely responsible for that,” said Sauve.
The director said they’re trying to work ahead of the heat this summer, so they installed portable air conditioning units — mainly used during disasters — to help keep the dogs cool. Something more permanent, such as a central air system or a brand new building, is too expensive and not possible at this time, according to the shelter administration.
“Nothing is going to be a quick fix,” said ACC director Diane Sauve. “We do believe our summers are getting warmer and warmer.”
And the heat is what she says they’re struggling with again this summer.
The portable air conditioning units were installed a little more than two weeks ago.
“It does keep it fairly cool in here,” said Sauve.
She walked us through the main kennel building — housing about 70 to 80 dogs — showing us the elaborate setup.
“They’re still tweaking things, doing different things from last summer,” she said.
They’re waiting for parts for one of the hoses on the units, which will be installed soon. They also had the permanent fans blowing throughout the kennel helping to spread the cool air from the fans.
“What you want is an AC system that’s constantly turning the air over like in a hospital, because you have dogs coming in every day with an unknown history,” she said.
Which means virus could spread more easily with these temporary units.
“We may very well are an increase in upper respiratory infection during the time we’re bringing in the seasonal AC,” she said.
Sauve said the temperatures at one point reached 85 degrees in the kennel when the units went out for a couple of days but with the units now working full time, the temperature inside the kennel stays below 80 degrees.
“We are monitoring this if it’s over 85 degrees for a certain amount of time, the AC has to be installed,” Sauve said.
There is a drawback to having the large units set up around the building.
“We’re no longer able to use several of the play yards,” said Sauve, adding that the sacrifice is worth the safety of the animals.
And on top of the heat, ACC is bursting at the seams with kittens.
Local groups like Bella’s Promise Pet Rescue and Peggy Adams Animal Rescue are working with the shelter to take on extra kittens and finding foster homes for them.
“It is the worst kitten season I’ve ever seen,” said Lisa Bogatin with Bella’s Promise. “They work very hard in finding groups like ours to take and find homes, so they have their hands full.”
If you find a kitten, click here for resources on what you can do to help it .
For now, ACC is looking to build either a new facility or launch a major renovation to finally get permanent cooling for the dogs.
"Everyone has to recognize and accept that we are doing what we can for the animals."
There will be public meetings starting in July with Palm Beach County commissioners to decide whether or not to build a new kennel with the shelter.
Sauve said a decision will hopefully be made by the end of this year.