While Fourth of July fireworks and parties are fun and exciting for people, they can be terrifying for pets, especially dogs left alone in backyards. In their fear they break chains (illegal in Austin!), and go over, under, or through fences. They may be miles from home and unable to find their way back by the time the noise is over and they calm down. Shelters across America are so inundated with lost dogs over the next few days that they've even coined a term for them – "July 4th dogs." The fate of these family pets is often tragic - death in a frightening and unfamiliar place. Even if the "July 4th dogs" make it home again, other dogs who have been at the shelter longer may pay with their lives as shelters make room for the flood of new arrivals. Cats can be victims of July Fourth as well. Don't let your dog or cat become a statistic - keep them inside on the Fourth!
Here are some tips to keep your pets safe this Fourth of July:
- Keep dogs and cats inside your home the evening of the Fourth.
- Make sure all pets are wearing well-fitting collars with up-to-date tags. Better yet, get them microchipped and make sure to keep your contact information updated.
- If you'll be away from home, provide safe chew toys (like stuffed kongs) to distract your pet.
- Consider crating pets known to be especially anxious or who may become destructive or break out through a window. If you don't have a crate, confine them to one room with safe chew toys and remove any objects they could destroy or that would be harmful if chewed or eaten.
- Leave a radio or tv on to cover the noise of any fireworks or loud parties.
Don't forget to keep pets safe during the heat of the day by providing a continuous supply of fresh water, a shaded place if outside, and limiting exercise to morning and evening hours. And NEVER leave your pet in the car in the summer, even in the evening.
If your pet is lost, visit the shelter every day or check online until found. Post large flyers with color photos of your pet around your neighborhood. Post a lost pet ad on Craigslist and check the found pet ads. Contact your neighbors or post to your neighborhood's mailing list or newsletter.
If you find a lost pet after the Fourth, if possible keep them at your home while you look for their owner to ease the strain on the shelter and save lives. If the pet isn't wearing tags, you should take it to the shelter to be scanned for a microchip, photographed, and entered in their lost and found database, then bring it home with you.
Some other communities, like Albuquerque, New Mexico, are taking special steps to ensure pets and owners are quickly reunited this holiday. We hope to see Austin's shelter take such a proactive approach in the future.
Other articles of interest:
Pet Detective Tracks July 4th Orphans
July 4th Safety Tips for Owners
Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe This 4th of July
Don't Let Your Dog Become a July 4th Dog
Chew Treats Needed to Calm Shelter Dogs on July 4th (Austin)
Valley animal shelters to be closed on 4th for lack of space