By Phillip Snyder, Executive Director
Published in the Englewood Sun on June 29, 2014
How many of us remember or are aware that the Fourth of July - Independence Day - is a holiday celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain? What about the fact that it actually occurred on July 4, 1776? I would bet that "man on the street" interviews would produce poor results if it was put to a question.
It historically is celebrated with a day (or more) of fireworks, parades, barbecues, concerts, picnics and family reunions. Out of these entertaining events, the one most dreaded by animal-care and -control personnel is FIREWORKS.
I guarantee that the Fourth of July is NOT a time of celebration for our pets. If they could read calendars, they would be packing up to leave about now. The fireworks that many of us human-types find so thrilling can drive pets - especially dogs - into a state of panic. Explosions from fireworks often can be felt and heard for miles. Kids screaming, high-pitched swooshes of rockets, and the bright flashes of light all can be overwhelming for many of our pets.
If your pet has been with you for a while, you probably recognize his warning signs when being overwhelmed with fear. He may cower, tremble, try to hide, and appear disoriented or out of control. Many pets become so frightened they take drastic action. It is not a rarity to hear of pets crashing through screen doors, jumping through or out of windows, or leaping over a fence and running away. Sound extreme? Not really. Just ask a humane society or animal control official.
July 5 and days following the holiday can be very busy ones at animal shelters. Many experience an increase of lost pets. Some dogs become so frightened that they may be hard to rescue and transfer to safety. It's important to remember that cats can also panic and run off, leaving anxious owners looking for them. Sadly, some lost pets are never recovered after the Fourth of July.
With a little luck and safety precautions, we can all enjoy the Fourth of July celebrations. Here are some suggestions to help keep your pet from becoming lost:
- Have your pet microchipped for proper identification. Also, make sure he is wearing a collar with proper identification. Microchips can be scanned only at veterinary clinics and animal shelters.
- Walk and exercise your dog early in the morning and afternoon before the fireworks begin.
- Keep all pets inside in a familiar area where they feel secure.
- Turn on a TV or radio for distractions.
- DO NOT take your pet to the community fireworks display.
- For pets with extreme anxiety, check with your veterinarian about tranquilizers.
- If your pet does become lost or you happen upon a lost pet, please contact the Suncoast Humane Society for information about how to file a lost-and-found report.