With 48 days of triple-digit temperatures (so far), this summer is one of the hottest in Austin. And though the heat has kept some Central Texans inside, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in nearby Fredericksburg is still open to the public. But officials are warning visitors to take precaution when visiting, especially with their four-legged friends.
Three dogs died of heat stroke last week at Enchanted Rock. “All three showed signs of dehydration and the one that died on Sunday also had a contributing factor of age,” says Stephanie Garcia, a spokesperson for the Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Three dogs died of heat stroke @GoEnchantedRock in the last week. Please read through these tips & consider leaving your beloved pets home in very hot weather. Surface temps on trails are much hotter than air temps. #toohotfordogs #txwx pic.twitter.com/e6o8zPU1uC— Texas State Parks (@TPWDparks) August 27, 2018
Heat-related injuries and animal deaths are not unusual at the park, Garcia says. One major contributing factor is the pink granite through Enchanted Rock, particularly the dome that the park is named for. On a day when the temperature outside is 99 degrees, the granite can reach up to 130 degrees. “So it’s quite a bit hotter, which is what unfortunately what can be impactful to some of the pets that visit our park,” Garcia says. The potential for pet deaths or injuries is part of the reason that pets are banned from Enchanted Rock’s summit trail, restricting pets to only picnic areas, campgrounds, and the Loop Trail.
Even with these safety restrictions, injuries and pet deaths still take place at the park, as evidenced by last week’s tragedies. The unfortunate deaths are a reminder to visitors to take the necessary safety precautions, such as stockpiling enough water for themselves and their pets.
In the last week, we've had 3 dogs die here at ERock of Heat Stroke. We strongly advise leaving your pets at home in a safe environment. High temperatures for this coming week are projected to be around 100°F, meaning our granite gravel trails will reach 130°F or higher. pic.twitter.com/9MCsGTC8NE— Enchanted Rock SNA (@GoEnchantedRock) August 26, 2018
“If they can, hike earlier or later in the evening just to avoid some of those really high direct sunlight hours in the middle of the day,” Garcia says. “Make sure that they have some snacks to keep their energy up and to take some park maps so they don’t get lost in the middle of their hike. We really want people to enjoy these sites and do it safely and be able to go home with a good experience at being out at these parks.”