For many, fireworks are the best part of the Fourth of July. For pets and their owners, it can be what they dread most.
“Your dog, your cat or any other animal, they don’t understand holidays,” Nick Cullen the Director of Kern County Animal Services said. “They don’t understand what a firework is, they hear a loud boom going off outside, and they think it’s chaos.”
It's that sort of chaos, Cullen said, that can prompt our beloved pets to go into fight or flight mode: at best, a dog may bark, but at worst, they may run away.
KCAS has prepared for it ahead of time. According to Cullen, they make room for the increase of intakes during the Independence Day Holiday weekend every year because of this.
“Like we do every year we expect a lot of people coming looking for their pets,” Cullen said. “We’re pretty sure that come Tuesday, a lot of people will be coming looking for their lost pets and we hope we can reunite them.”
July 4th-6th is when Cullen said they historically see a 20 percent increase in the amount of animals that come into their shelter. So if your pet goes missing, he said do not waste any time looking for them or expect them to return home on their own.
“The moment you realize your pet is missing, go and visit those animal shelters. If you’re a county resident, check the city’s animal shelters as well,” Cullen said. “Check the local non profits in the area. You just never know.”
Another recommendation Cullen gave is to text the “lost” to 47177, which will provide a step by step of best practices to finding pets. According to Cullen, precautions like ID tags, microchips and licenses, “save lives.” In the chance your pet goes missing, this can help track them down.
“It’s Kern county. There’s not just dogs and cats here. There are a lot of folks that own horses, livestock and large pieces of cattle and this applies to them too. Know your horse, know your livestock. You might want to take the steps of permanent or temporary identification on your large animal, like a breakaway halter, where you can write name, address and phone number.”
Prevention is key, according to Cullen, to keep your pets during the holiday and the days that follow: A real simple thing, Cullen said, is keep pets indoors. If for some reason you cannot be with your pet during the Independence day holiday, he said keep them in a safe room where they don’t have the ability to get out and cause damage and harm to themselves.
Cullen also suggested keeping the radio or television on in the background, because that can soothe a pet's anxiety or even drown out the firework noise. Another tip: familiarize your pet with your neighbors and other family members who may be able to stay with them during the holiday and keep an eye on them. He added to make sure they have fresh food and water at all times. He also recommended consulting your veterinarian, who might recommend prescribing medication that can calm a pet down. Dog anxiety Jackets, he said, may also be a good option to ease anxiety.
“If you absolutely need to keep your pet outside, you got to think that just because your pet was secure in your backyard July 1, does not mean it won’t have that flight response and find a way out of your property July 4,” Cullen said.