Tips to keep pets calm during fireworks

July 1, 2009 4:52:19 PM PDT
Bay Area humane societies and animal shelters are reminding residents that Fourth of July fireworks displays are no fun for Fido.

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Each year pets left unattended outdoors become frightened by the sights and sounds of the pyrotechnics and often escape yards, patios and balconies.

The Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo County normally retrieves 10-12 stray pets during a two-day period but the number doubles around the Fourth of July, vice president Scott Delucchi said.

The numbers are high when the Fourth of July falls on a weekend, as it does this year, because pet owners are more likely to be away from home most of the day compared to when the holiday falls on a weekday, Delucchi said.

Pet owners, however, appear to be listening to the advice given each year because there was a 50 percent reduction last Fourth of July in the number of pets retrieved by the Peninsula Humane Society, Delucchi said.

Carrie Harrington, communications manager for the Marin Humane Society, said unfortunately not everyone is listening. People still bring dogs to the fireworks display at the Marin County Fairgrounds during the annual Marin County fair that started today.

People bringing pets are turned away at the gate, she said. There are usually more than a dozen reports in Marin County of pets, usually dogs, spooked by the fireworks around the holiday, Carrington said, but horses can also be frightened. Horse owners tend to take precautions by getting their animals inside a barn, she said.

The humane societies recommend keeping pets indoors in a quiet, sheltered "den-like" retreat during fireworks displays.

Pet owners should close the windows and curtains and turn the radio or television on to help drown out some of the noise.

Valuable items should be removed from the room in case the pet becomes destructive or the items would be harmful if chewed.

Pets that are known to be distressed by fireworks displays may benefit from a fast-acting anti-anxiety medication by a veterinarian in advance.

Pets should also be wearing a current identification tag so they can be returned to their owners if they become lost.

Pet owners should also make sure their fences and gates are in good repair and outdoor enclosures are secure before the fireworks fill the air with light and noise.

Owners of lost pets should check with their local animal shelter every other day and post flyers about their lost pets, Delucchi said.

The Peninsula Humane Society will have extra animal control officers available to respond to calls about lost pets this Fourth of July weekend, Delucchi said.

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