For millions of Americans, the Fourth of July means fireworks. And while plenty of humans love the noise and lights of a fireworks show, pets – particularly dogs – almost always do not.
And that’s why more pets go missing on Independence Day than any other day of the year, according to Pet Amber Alert.
The problem is so serious that Richardson Rescue, an animal shelter in York, won’t allow adult dogs to be adopted on July 4, founder Janet Richardson said.
“The noise, especially if you have a dog that is afraid of thunder and lighting, will cause them such panic that they’ll run and they’ll be lost,” she said.
Even dogs that aren’t easily spooked should be kept inside where they don’t have any access to an outside door, Richardson said, because they can be let out accidentally. If a dog has a safe place he likes, such as under a table or curled in a corner, let him go there.
Richardson Rescue and Pet Amber Alert advise taking steps to keep your pooch safe while you enjoy the holiday:
• Don’t take your pet to an outdoor fireworks event, even in your own yard. Many animals will flee at the sound of loud noises to seek safety, no matter where they are.
• Keep your dog or cat in a secure place during fireworks, preferably indoors or in a crate. Animals are much more sensitive than humans to loud noises and need to feel safe. Never leave your pet in a closed car, even at night.
• If your pet is extremely fearful of loud noises, consider purchasing a Thunder Shirt. These heavy vests help suppress an animal’s central nervous system to calm them. Use lavender as a naturally calming scent or feed your dog a “calming mix,” that can be purchased at a pet store.
• If using fireworks at home, keep your animal far away from them. Fireworks can cause severe burns and can be poisonous if ingested.
• Make sure your pet is properly tagged and identified and have a search plan if he or she runs off. Contact local shelters, put up signs and use social media to get the word out as soon as possible if your pet goes missing.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072