Fireworks sales booths are now officially open in 295 communities across the state of California, and animal shelters nationwide are bracing for an onslaught of stray animals. With the excessively high temperatures the western United States is currently experiencing, the 4th of July holiday will not only lead to many lost pets, but also tragically, to an increase in pets who will die unnecessarily.
The noise of fireworks is startling to pets. For many dogs and cats, hearing the noise of firecrackers or other explosives is a scary very proposition. Because their hearing is even more sensitive than ours, a distant crackle or boom may scare them and invoke a “fight or flight” response. If they are outside, their natural instinct will be to run away from the noise. Often times their fear is so great that they will manage to escape from even a fenced back yard in seemingly superhuman ways; digging, breaking through or scaling fences.
The instinct of the animal is to get as far away from the noise as possible. While you may think your pet will stay in the neighborhood, they often run and run for miles. Many animals are struck by cars. With triple digit temperatures, others will succumb to heat stroke or dehydration.
Sadly, starting on July 1st, the shelters across the state are gearing up for an onslaught of stray animals coming in their doors for at least a week.
David Dickinson, director of the Sacramento County Animal shelter told usedview.com “Last year on 7/5/12 we took in 78 dogs and on 7/6/12 we took in another 76. Our shelter reaches comfortable capacity at around 160 and average dog population is around 130, so you can see that when we get that large of an increase in two days we are scrambling to house them all. From 7/2/12 thru 7/10/12 we took in a total of 309 dogs and 196 cats. We send out a press release every year prior to the fourth advising owners to make sure their pets are safe and confined properly but every year we get bombarded with runaways and strays after the holiday.”
It’s not difficult to keep your pets safe during this time of year. First and foremost, keep your dog or cat inside as much as possible. Even without fireworks in the mix, when the temperature gets about 90, the animals should always be in a cool indoor area with plenty of fresh water available.
Make sure you have adequate identification on your animals. This means a microchip implanted in the animal with your current information on file with the company and a collar or harness with identification tags with current contact information.
Take a photo of you with your animal. This is the best way you will prove that your dog or cat is actually belongs to you if they are lost and found in the neighborhood.
If you are walking your dog on a leash, be prepared for the possibility of them getting startled by a loud noise and bolting. Keep a tight grip on the leash at all times and avoid walking by busy streets if at all possible. Dogs don’t think to stop and look both ways when scared, and the last thing you want is to witness your beloved pet hit by a car.
Don’t take your dog to places where you know there will be fireworks. This is asking for a problem and is also cruel to your dog. Remember, their hearing is much more acute than ours and a firecracker down the street may seem the equivalent of us standing by the speakers at a heavy metal concert.
When fireworks are at their worst, find the most quiet room in the house and confine your pet in that area. Close drapes or blinds on windows that might let in flashes of light. It is often helpful to have a “white noise” for the pet. This can be the television, soothing music, like a classical music CD or radio station. If you pet gets very agitated by the noises, call your veterinarian to get some medication that can help during the most stressful times. A few drops of Lavender essential oil massaged into your pets coat and some Rescue Remedy on the tongue are two natural solutions to help take the edge off of the stress.
If your pets do manage to get lost, check your local animal shelters daily. Don’t assume that they will automatically be at the closest one and don’t wait to look online at photos. Physically go to the shelters and look through the cages. Put up posters around the area and give them to people who are out and about, like delivery drivers and postal carriers. Also put an ad on Craigslist and search the “found” ads on Craigslist and in the local newspapers.
They call the fireworks available for sale “safe and sane”. Remember that your furry friends are counting on you to keep them safe and sane throughout the 4th of July holiday season.