When Bonnie Perkins returned home Monday night, one of her two beloved dogs, Jade, was missing.
Perkins and her two granddaughters don’t know how or why Jade got out, but they assume the 12-year-old terrier mix was startled by all the fireworks popping and glowing around their north Spokane neighborhood.
“I know that scared her off,” Perkins said, fighting back tears. “She’ll chase a squirrel, I know that. But she’s never run like this before. We looked and looked and looked last night and couldn’t find her.”
Perkins is one of dozens of pet owners who arrived at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service headquarters Tuesday morning searching for pets that ran away during Independence Day celebrations.
“At 10 o’clock this morning we had a huge burst of people come in,” said SCRAPS spokeswoman Janet Dixon. “They were here to get their dogs back.”
The first days of July are one of the busiest times of year for SCRAPS, largely due to pets being frightened out of their homes by mysterious booms and flashes of light.
“When those fireworks start going off and maybe there’s people going in and out of the house, it’s really easy for pets to slip out,” Dixon said.
During an average five-day stretch, SCRAPS takes in about 69 animals, Dixon said. Since July 1, however, the agency has impounded more than 110 animals, and that number was rising steadily Tuesday afternoon.
A typical day’s caseload requires about five animal protection officers. Eight were patrolling the county on Tuesday.
One officer, Jennifer Merrell, said pet owners should take precautions when gearing up for the Fourth of July.
“Keep your dogs in the house and make sure they’re in a safe environment,” she said. Even in a fenced backyard, “They will find a way out if they want to get out.”
Shortly before noon Tuesday, Merrell responded to a home on East 18th Avenue near Manito Park. A man said a medium-sized dog had wandered into his yard looking tired and scared. He said he hadn’t seen the dog before.
Merrell scanned the back of the dog’s neck for a microchip, but there was none. It wasn’t wearing a collar, either.
And so the husky-shepherd mix became the newest tenant of the SCRAPS kennel room in Spokane Valley.
Dixon said the best way to avoid permanently losing pets is to have them microchipped. That way, SCRAPS officers can quickly identify the owner of a missing animal – and deliver the animal right to the owner’s door.
“If people had their dogs licensed and microchipped, Jennifer could be calling them from the field saying, ‘Hey, I have your dog,’ and the dog wouldn’t have to be impounded here,” Dixon said. “It’s $25 for a spayed or neutered pet, and that $25 is your assurance that you’re going to get your dog back.”
Jade the terrier isn’t microchipped. But Bonnie Perkins hopes someone will recognize her pink collar and bring her home to safety.
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