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Dog Abandoned at the MSPCA-Angell While Suffering Heat Stroke Underscores Danger of Soaring Summer Temps

“Rocco” Survived and now up for Adoption; MSPCA Warns Pet Owners to be Vigilant about the Heat

BOSTON, July 28, 2020 – With temperatures set to soar this week, Boston’s MSPCA-Angell is warning pet owners to take extra precautions after a three-year-old Pit Bull named “Rocco” barely survived heat stroke before being abandoned by his owner at Angell Animal Medical Center on July 9.

Rocco’s story began when a Boston animal control officer responded to a call about a dog in distress on Dartmouth Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood.  The animal control officer whisked Rocco to Angell, where he underwent immediate treatment for heat stroke.  Rocco’s owner accompanied the dog to the hospital, but took off shortly after arriving, never coming back to claim his pet.

Veterinarians in Angell’s Critical Care Unit were able to save Rocco—whose temperature reached 106 degrees and who was seizing by the time he arrived—by administering valium, IV fluids and active cooling treatment to lower his temperature.  Meantime, repeated messages at the number provided by Rocco’s owner on arrival were not returned, and officials believe Rocco’s owner may be homeless and not residing at any particular address.

Now that 10 days have passed, Rocco is in the care of the MSPCA at Nevins Farm in Methuen, where he is available for adoption.  Would-be adopters can email for more information about the spirited pup, who staffers say seems to enjoy the company of other dogs and people.

“Rocco’s been through the worst that summer temperatures can throw at any dog, and on top of that his former owner abandoned him,” said Mike Keiley, director of adoption centers and programs at the MSPCA-Angell.  “But the last thing we’re going to do is abandon Rocco.  We’re going to pull out all the stops to find him the most loving and safe home that we can.”

On Alert for Soaring Temperatures

Dr. Virginia Sinnott-Stutzman of Angell Animal Medical Center maintains that all pets can safely navigate this week’s rising temps so long as their owners follow very simple recommendations, including:

  • Scheduling a check-up. A summertime check-up will reveal any heart or respiratory issues that should be addressed before pets become more active in the summer months
  • Ensure ready access to shade, water and rest—parks with leafy trees and soft ground along with streams or ponds (in which dogs can cool off) offer wonderful recreational opportunities with plenty of opportunities to cool off
  • Exercise dogs in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are lower
  • Be especially cautious with dogs who have short noses, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, as these dogs are particularly vulnerable to overheating

Dogs should also never be left unattended in cars, which can heat up to 110 degrees in 10 minutes on an 80-degree day, even with the windows slightly open.

Anyone who finds a dog left alone in a car on a warm day should immediately phone the police.  The MSPCA worked to pass a law that improves the ability of first responders, such as police, fire, and animal control — as well as the public—to rescue dogs trapped in hot cars.  Read more about the law here.

“When in doubt, leave dogs at home,” says Dr. Sinnott-Stutzman.

Rocco is just one of the more than 100,000 animals whose medical and sheltering needs are met each year by the MSPCA-Angell.  Readers who would like to offset the cost of his care—and the care of animals just like him—can click here.