Pets don't get a bang out of fireworks

Robert Houk • Jul 4, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Many families will gather today to watch the 33rd Annual Pepsi Independence Day Fireworks Celebration at Freedom Hill.

But there are furry members of those clans who will not be enjoying the display.

Animal control officials say pets are often frightened by the sound of fireworks, which send cats and dogs running for cover. Cara Ledbetter, executive director of the Johnson City/Washington County Animal Shelter, said her facility sees a slight increase in the number of stray dogs it collects during the Fourth of July holiday.

“We see 15 or so additional animals a day around the time of the fireworks,” she said. “This also comes at one of our busiest times of year.”

Ledbetter said the shelter is currently holding 400 cats and 150 dogs.

“People think their dogs are secured because they are in a fenced yard,” she said. “These animals are scared by the sound of fireworks. They get out of these yards, and end up running at large.”

Ledbetter said these are things pet owners can do to make their animals feel safe during the fireworks:

• Purchase a branded “thunder shirt,” or other such piece of tight clothing, to make the dog feel secure.

• Put them in a crate. If the animal is used to spending time in a crate, put him or her in it during the fireworks display. Dogs feel more secure in small, familiar spaces.

• Use a calming pheromone spray. These scents are particularly useful in calming cats.

• Leave your pet at home. Don’t take your dog to Freedom Hall or to a neighborhood party to see the fireworks.

• Make sure your pet has all its information updated on its tags. That means a phone number and address where you can be reached.

“Microchipping is the best,” Ledbetter said. “We scan all animals we take in for a microchip.”

Ledbetter said you should also think twice before taking your pet to an outdoor festival this summer. If the concrete or asphalt surface is too hot to rest you hand on for more than five seconds, then it is not a place for your dog’s sensitive paws.

And never leave an animal inside a hot car — even with the windows cracked.

“It only takes a 15 minutes for a dog to have problem in this summer’s heat,” she said.

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