Last Friday’s “Up Close” Show featured Gary Daigneault’s interview with Rick Boyd, the animal control supervisor for Twentynine Palms. And after two local tragic animal hoarding stories just this month, plus the threat of high temperatures, we’ve got critters on the cranium.

Twentynine Palms Animal Control Supervisor Rick Boyd has been working with animals for 26 years, much of that for his adopted hometown. In last Friday’s conversation with Gary Daigneault, Boyd explained that dog licenses help the city maintain a rabies-free environment for all. (Marine base kitties must be inoculated and registered too.) The city’s high bat population factor into this enforcement as well, though no rabies cases have been reported in the city thus far.

Other interview highlights:

Funding for all animal shelters is down. To donate to the Courage Fund (which goes directly to the animals) you can call the city’s shelter, Palms-N-Paws, at 760-367-6799, option 3. They are an “open admission” shelter – meaning they take in all animals, regardless of health status – and a “minimum kill shelter” meaning they only euthanize as a last resort, such as when an animal is dangerous or terminal.

Twentynine Palms Dog Park is very popular. Located at Knott Sky Park, 6897 El Sol Avenue, just three blocks south of 29 Palms Hwy. Dogs are separated by size, with a small enclosure for dogs thirty pounds or less, or a large enclosure for dogs over thirty pounds. Puppies under 16 weeks old are not allowed. All dogs must be spayed/neutered, licensed, and wearing their tag.

Microchipping reunites pets/owners, but only if the owner’s contact info is kept current.

Update your pet’s microchip right here.

Next to adoption, spay/neutering is the kindest act for a pet. Giving away unwanted puppies and kittens sounds sweet but it lowers chances of a shelter pet being adopted instead of euthanized, Boyd said.

Overpopulation of dogs is a huge problem, though Boyd has seen it decline in the last 26 years. In the late 90s, the shelter was getting 300-350 dogs a month, and it is now about 100 a month due to increased spaying/neutering.

Regarding coyotes, the best approach is, don’t. Keep the wildlife wild! Don’t feed them, ever. Make it an unpleasant interaction so they don’t associate you with food. They are not pets. Feeding coyotes stops them from hunting and discourages them from teaching their young to hunt. Leave them alone.

(And speaking of wildlife, not a bad idea to get Rattlesnake Aversion Training for your dog. There are multiple options in the Morongo Basin.)

If you hit a dog with your car, you are not responsible. Citation fines for a public off-leash dog is $250, second is $500, and $1,000 for the third. After that, a court will intervene to remove the animal. Call 911 and they will contact the sheriff or Animal Control. Or call them directly: (760) 367-0157 or (760) 367-6799 ext. 1018.

Biggest complaints? Barking dogs, feces, and loose dogs. Boyd suggested talking to your neighbor first, if possible, for a faster resolution. Otherwise, call Animal Control to intervene.

Legitimate Service Animals (including Psychiatric Service animals) are allowed to go wherever the owner goes, but this does not apply to “Emotional Support” animals. Anyone in a public place (store, restaurant, public transportation, etc.) can legally ask two questions of a dog owner:

  • Is the dog is required because of a disability?
  • What job or tasks is the dog is trained to perform?

In California, pretending to be an owner of a service dog is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment.

Note that dogs, of any status, are NOT allowed on trails in Joshua Tree National Park. Leashed pets are allowed within 100 feet of roads, picnic areas, and campgrounds ONLY.

Sadly, there were two tragic animal discoveries this month alone: ​​Sheriff’s six large, deceased dogs and caged lizards on a Wonder Valley property after investigating reports of foul odors. Live animals found included a large pot belly pig, a small puppy, a python snake, and gecko lizards. The animals had no shade, food, or water and appeared malnourished.

Then there’s the 72 neglected animals (seven horses, 30 dogs, 15 cats, 20 guinea pigs) found in Yucca Valley this past week. All are getting vet care and prepped for adoption but the owner, Leslie McMillan, was cited and could face prosecution for Animal Cruelty. If you suspect a hoarding situation, contact the authorities immediately.

These are extreme examples of neglect, but desert-dwelling pet owners must be vigilant in protecting their animals from the heat. Before walking your dog, place the back of your hand on the ground surface. If you cannot leave your hand there for seven seconds without feeling pain, skip the walk. Your pup’s paw pads will feel that same pain.

Running errands? Leave your pet home. Sadly, hundreds of pets expire in hot cars every year. Currently, 31 states (and DC) have laws addressing animals left in vehicles. “Good Samaritan” laws exist in 14 of those states, including California, which enables anyone to rescue an animal in a hot car, but only if they contact authorities first. Note that on a 70-degree day, inside car temps can hit 89 degrees in ten minutes. Cracking a window does NOT reduce temperature.

Dogs have a different cooling system than humans, which makes them more susceptible to overheating. Humans cool our bodies through skin sweat but dogs sweat mildly through their paw pads, though not as efficient.

Boyd provided a list of dangerous symptoms of doggie heatstroke:

  • Heavy panting – “Once that tongue goes taco-shaped, it’s a problem!”
  • Body temperature over 103 degrees (Normal dog body temp: 101 -102.5 degrees.)
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Excessive drooling
  • Agitated behavior
  • Deep purple or red gums
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Muscle cramping
  • Seizures
  • Dazed, disoriented
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of consciousness

If a dog has heatstroke:

  • Get the dog inside, beginning into an air-conditioned home.
  • Lay the dog on a cool surface, such as tile flooring or a bathtub.
  • Wet the dog thoroughly with cool or room temperature water, especially ear flaps and paws.
  • Get damp towels for neck area, legs and groin.
  • Rubbing alcohol between toes – will draw out the heat.
  • Direct a fan on them, if possible.
  • Have fresh water available but do not force drinking.
  • Use a rectal thermometer to monitor their temperature every few minutes.
  • Get to local vet quickly!


  • Use ice or very cold water! This the blood vessels in the skin to constrict, trapping heat in the body’s core, where it’s causes the most damage. Use room-temperature water ONLY.
  • Over-cool your dog. Once the rectal temperature drops to 103 F, get to the vet.
  • Leave your dog unattended for any length of time.
  • “Wait-and-see” – dogs that are allowed to ‘sleep it off’ are worse later.

Boyd offered final thoughts on pet ownership. “Make sure they’re in a safe enclosure and cannot escape. Protect the animals from the heat. If they keep knocking over the water bucket, bury it part-way into the ground, put a big rock in the bottom, or get a kiddie pool.

And fully soak your dog, don’t just mist it – they have fur coats,” Boyd said. “Most of all, make time for that animal. If you don’t have 10-15 years to commit to its’ care, don’t get that animal.”

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