The Fourth of July is not a time of celebration for pets. The fireworks that humans find thrilling can drive pets, especially dogs, into a state of panic. The explosions (even miles away), the high-pitched swoosh of rockets and the flashes of light can be terrifying for animals. If your pets are frightened by fireworks, you probably know the signs: they cower, tremble in fear and may run away.
Every year, Portland animal shelters have their hands full dealing with lost dogs and cats who bolted on July 4th. Sadly, some lost pets are never recovered. There are ways to make July 4th safer and less stressful for pets. The Oregon Humane Society urges pet owners to follow these suggestions to keep pets safe:
1) During neighborhood firework displays, keep all pets inside. Dogs and cats who are distressed should be placed inside a room with closed windows and a secure door. A screen door will not stop a frightened dog. Don’t take a dog to watch a large commercial firework display, as this increases the likelihood of your pet becoming lost in an unfamiliar area.
2) Make sure all pets, even indoor-only cats, wear a collar with an identification tag that includes your name and telephone number. An identification microchip is even better, as it is embedded in your pet and cannot be lost. These simple precautions will go a long way towards ensuring a rapid reunion with a lost pet.
3) Walk dogs in the early evening, well before nightfall, to prevent undue stress from noisy fireworks.
4) For dogs with extreme reactions to fireworks, talk with your veterinarian about the possibility of using canine sedatives.
Lost Pets: What to Do
If your pet becomes lost during the holiday:
1) Check with your local animal control agency. Many agencies have lost-and-found listings on their website.
2) Put up flyers with a photo and description of the missing pet.
3) The Craigslist website offers free lost and found pet postings.
4) Search your neighborhood and your own property thoroughly. Lost cats, for example, are often found hiding under a bush in front of their owner’s home.
5) More resources regarding Fourth of July pet safety, plus help for reuniting lost and found dogs with their owners, can be found on the OHS website.
If you find a stray animal, please keep them with you until your local animal shelter is open and ready to receive them. Below is contact information for shelters in the Portland metro and Southwest Washington areas:
Clackamas County Dog Services
13141 SE Highway 212, Clackamas, OR
Humane Society for Southwest Washington
1100 NE 192nd Ave., Vancouver, WA
Multnomah County Animal Services
1700 W. Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale, OR
Oregon Humane Society
1067 NE Columbia Blvd., Portland, OR
(Note: OHS accepts stray cats from Clackamas County by appointment only.)
Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter/Washington County Animal Services
1901 SE 24th Avenue, Hillsboro, OR
Clark County Animal Protection and Control
1300 Franklin Street, Vancouver, WA