One of the busiest times of the year for most animal shelters is around the Fourth of July holiday.
While many people celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, most do not realize the effect the loud noises have on pets. In panicked attempts to escape the sounds, many pets have been known to leap through screens, break rope tethers, wrench off collars, climb or leap over fences - anything to get as far away from the noises as possible.
“We definitely see more pets coming in around the Fourth,” said Mark Panky, Humane Society of Richmond County assistant manager. “People don’t realize how scary fireworks are for the animals, and they run away from the noise. We hope people remember to make sure their pets are secured during times fireworks and other loud displays might be used.”
In fear, pets may dash into traffic or run so far away from home that they become lost. If they aren’t killed or injured, many of these runaways end up in shelters.
It’s important to remember, during times of celebration with fireworks, to make sure pets are secured indoors, and as far away from the sounds as possible.
It’s a mistake to assume that a fenced pet won’t look for a way to escape the yard during times of extreme stress.
If you’re lucky enough to live out of earshot of city fireworks displays, don’t forget that small neighborhood displays or kids shooting off novelty items can be just as distressing for pets. If you, or your neighbors, plan to celebrate it’s a good idea to keep a sharp eye on well secured pets.
Pets may try to relieve anxiety by chewing, so it’s important to make sure confined pets do not have access to anything they could destroy. Indoor crating could be a good option for some dogs, but not for periods longer than four hours.
Some pets respond well to herbal sedatives to get them through times of stress. Mercantile On Broad, in Rockingham, sells NaturVet Calming Aid, which is recommended for pets during travel, grooming, thunderstorms and fireworks.
“Many customers use the calming aid for their animals,” said Angela Davis, Mercantile On Broad manager. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the product. Everyone says it works well, it’s a natural and safe way to help pets calm down.”
Pet owners should also make sure their animals can be identified, in case they escape. Name tags can be purchased from pet supply stores, like Mercantile On Broad. Engraved tags start at $5.99. Microchipping pets is another way to help missing animals find their way home. Veterinarians can microchip a pet, which lasts throughout an animal’s life.
“Our microchipping procedure costs $37.50,” said Nikki Patrick, Cooley Veterinary Hospital staffer. “We will file all the registration paperwork for the pet, and this includes a Web site owners can access to update any changes in contact information, like phone numbers and addresses.The procedure doesn’t require the animal being sedated, it’s just a tiny implant - smaller than a grain of rice - right between the shoulder blades. Most veterinary hospitals, shelters and rescue groups have scanners to identify microchipped pets.”
“We have a scanner and check intakes for microchips,” said Panky. “I wish more pets had some kind of identification so we could return them to the owners. If a pet does escape, it’s important to contact the shelter immediately and fill out a lost report so that we can return the animal if it comes to us.”
— Staff writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.