June 27, 2006 > Boom!
by Nancy Lyon
It's July 4th and fireworks are bursting in the air shattering normally peaceful surroundings - sounds like a great time but has anyone checked with your animal family members? Well, now is the time to remind ourselves that they don't understand why hell has suddenly broken loose and their secure world has become a terrifying place.
Even so-called legal fireworks can be fear inducing to our animal friends. Then there are the terrifying and dangerous explosions from cherry bombs, bottle rockets and guns set off by those who have no respect for the law much less the safety of animals and homeowners.
Since it's unrealistic to expect any great shift in consciousness in the immediate future - what can we do to keep our animal companions out of harm's way? There are some simple precautions you can take to greatly reduce the stress and the risk of injury or death:
- Never take your companion animal anyplace where there will be fireworks or leave them in the car where unexpected explosions might occur.
- If you must go out, leave them at home with one or more responsible human family members. Even the most stable animal who is left alone on this night and for several days before and after the 4th can become a victim.
- If you are at home with your dog or cat during this period and they become frightened, divert their attention by practicing an obedience routine or playing a game.
- Leave a frightened cat alone. Do not try to force a cat from its hiding place. When cats feel safe they will come out of hiding.
- If your animal is super sensitive to loud noises, discuss the possibility of sedation with your vet ASAP.
- If a serious reaction to loud noises is a continuing problem, seek the help of a trained animal behaviorist who can assist in modifying the terror response in the future.
- Consider boarding your pet at a professional kennel or with your vet for the holiday.
- Think outside the box, If you feel like celebrating, plan a party and play instead of participating in other events. Making new traditions can be fun for you and help your animal family.
If you absolutely feel you must leave them alone, the following may help prevent a tragedy:
- Before you leave your home make sure that all of your animals are secured safely inside the house in a room with no windows such as a bathroom or washroom. The garage even while tightly secured still is dangerous to a very frightened animal.
- If left in the garage, block screened garage air vents. Panicked dogs have been known to chew through air vents and have been seriously injured or escaped and have been injured or killed.
- A radio will provide soothing music and helps to mask the noise.
- Do not tie up your dog outdoors. In an effort to escape from the noise they will often break their chains or tether, jump the fence and run away. If the chains don't break, your dog may strangle trying to jump a fence. Keep them on leash for potty walks even in the backyard.
- Cats left outside may disappear forever.
- Never allow your animal companions to roam free, especially on July 4th. They can become the targets of abuse by cruel pranksters. Frightened animals may run into traffic and endanger themselves and motorists.
- It is especially important during the days before and after July 4th to make sure that every member of your animal family is wearing an identification tag with your current address and phone number. Talk to your vet about a microchip ID implant as a further protection.
- If the worst happens and he or she is lost, be sure to check with your local and adjacent area animal shelters ASAP. Animals who survive are often found miles from their homes, confused, disoriented, and exhausted.
Noisy holidays are traditionally the busiest time for animal shelters. For the lucky survivors who end up safely in the Tri-City Animal Shelter remember the operational hours are very limited during the week so be sure they are wearing current daytime contact information. Getting them home soon is also less expensive to you.
If a frightened animal is a traffic hazard, seriously injured, or if you feel threatened, immediately call your local police department, it's their job to respond if no animal services are available.
If you can't safely keep a found animal until the shelter opens, the best course of action is to bring stray and frightened Tri-City animals to the Fremont police department on Stevenson Blvd. Police staff will see that they are safely confined in the shelter.
During closed hours, injured animals that can be safely handled may be brought to Central Veterinary Hospital on Central Avenue in Fremont on a Good Samaritan basis. Seriously injured lost animals that may not be safe to transport are the responsibility of the police department during this period.
Companion animals are not the only victims of fireworks. It always makes me cringe when I hear that fireworks have started grass fires and no lives or homes have been lost. When fires are started by careless and thoughtless people, helpless wildlife not only lose their lives, they lose life sustaining habitat and homes, and too often die terrible deaths.
All life matters and deserves respect. Celebrate - but act responsibly! Tri-City Animal Shelter hours: Tuesday-Friday 12-5pm; Saturday 11-4pm. Phones open after 1PM - 510-790-6643 or 34. Fremont Police Department: 510-790-6800.