Temperature Rising for County Strays : Castaic: A Saugus man seeks volunteers to install cooling units at the animal shelter to protect dogs and cats from the severe summer heat.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

When the dog days hit, the hundreds of animals at the Los Angeles County shelter in Castaic find little relief from the heat.

And it steams Richard Kerr that he can't cool things down.

Kerr, founder of Citizens for Sheltered Animals in Santa Clarita, was able to persuade HR Textron Inc. a Valencia aerospace company, to donate to the animal shelter three large evaporative coolers worth about $4,000.

But for nearly a year he has been unable to raise the money or get volunteers to install the units on the roofs of the shelter.

He estimates it would cost between $600 and $1,000 to install the units and would take about two days of work for a contractor.

"The heat up here is so hot. I mean it really gets hot," said John Rozier, manager of the shelter. "Those coolers will really help."

Still, Rozier said it has never gotten so hot that the animals have suffered from heat exhaustion because the shelter's roofs have ventilation fans.

While he concedes that it's a dog's life in a kennel, Kerr believes it doesn't have to be uncomfortable.

"This is not something to solve a problem," he said. "It would just make it better."

Kerr, who runs a retail pet supply service in Saugus, said he hopes eventually to get two units installed over the dog kennel and one over the cat kennel. The shelter houses a maximum of about 150 dogs and about 60 cats. Occasionally, it also becomes home to lions, horses, snakes and sheep.

Kerr's interest in animals was sparked in 1987, when his pet Irish setter died and he adopted a stray golden retriever he found while driving home from work.

Soon after that, he founded the nonprofit group Citizens for Sheltered Animals, which has only a handful of volunteers who try to raise money and recruit volunteers to find homes for homeless dogs and cats.

Nicci Dobson, a volunteer and resident of Canyon Country who has taken in three dogs and three cats, said it is difficult to find people who will make a long-term commitment to the animals. "You get them interested when they come in and see all of this," she said gesturing toward the kennels, "but then they go home and forget."

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