COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — With a heat index over 100, Southwest Florida's first day of summer was a scorcher. It had staff at the Shy Wolf Sanctuary near Naples working to help the dozens of animals kept there to stay cool - changing the water in tubs, and using a hose to give some lucky wolves a shower.
Shy Wolf Executive Director Deanna Deppen said summers at the sanctuary have been a little more challenging since 2017, thanks to Hurricane Irma.
"With Irma, we lost a lot of our tree covering," Deppen said. "We had some shade cloths donated."
Besides the shade cloths keeping the sun off of the wolves, she said staff is also trying to keep the air circulating around their dens by going solar with some new-fangled fans.
"We actually went as far as having a company build prototype cooling fans for us, for our people and our animals," Deppen said. "By them creating a solar fan, we're more sustainable, we're green."
So far they have two of the fans, and are hoping to get several more.
Deppen is also looking forward to re-locating the sanctuary to a larger property within the next few years. She said the new facility will have a filtered, flowing water feature, so that volunteers won't have to work so hard changing the water in foot tubs within the dens.
"It would run through all four enclosures," she said. "The animals would always have fresh water."
She has some advice for pet owners to help them keep man's best friend cool in the high heat.
"Your animals at home can only stay cool through panting, or (sweating through) the pads of their feet," Deppen said. "It's a good idea to have a water source, like a pool or kiddie pool, something they can play in."
But she said it's not necessary to shave pets with long hair.
"A lot of people think shaving their long-haired dogs in the summer helps keep them cooler, but actually it doesn't," Deppen said. "Their coat helps protect them from heat as well as cold."