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July Fourth’s a fright for pets

Precautions can help skittish animals survive holiday

The Fourth of July is traditionally one of the most difficult days of the year for animal control in the Inland Northwest, as fireworks scare pets from their homes and frantic owners flood help lines.

“It just keeps booming and they keep running and it keeps booming and they keep running,” said Phil Morgan, executive director of the Kootenai Humane Society. “Last year … we must have had 50, 60, 70 calls.”

Morgan said five to 10 calls a day is standard at the Hayden shelter.

Spokane County’s fireworks ban has helped alleviate the problem there, said Nancy Hill, executive director of Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, but the holiday still results in an increase in lost pets, she said.

“The problem has not gone away because not everyone follows the rules,” she said. “The fact is, fireworks scare dogs. I’m pretty sure come Monday morning, we’re going to have people looking for lost dogs.”

Animal control officials offer these tips for keeping pets calm and safe over the Independence Day holiday:

•Do not take pets to fireworks displays.

•Keep pets indoors, with curtains or blinds drawn. Frightened dogs can break through a screen door or jump out a window. Turn on the television or stereo to drown out fireworks noise.

•Microchip pets or make sure they have collars with identification tags. Licensed dogs have a better chance of being returned to owners.

•If a pet is crate-trained, place it in its crate.

•An owner of a new pet should stay with the pet if they do not know how it will react to loud noise.

•Owners who must be outside should keep pets on leashes or in carriers.

•Do not leave pets in the car while attending fireworks displays. Hot temperatures can result in serious health effects, including death, for animals left in cars. A young black Labrador retriever died last week after being left in a hot car in a parking lot.

•Seek veterinary advice regarding sedation for pets excessively frightened by loud noises.

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