PAWS AND PAGES:Pets and fireworks don’t mix

The dog is hiding behind the curtains and is afraid to go out. The concept of dogs anxiety about thunderstorm, fireworks and noises. Pets mental health, excessive emotionality, feelings of insecurity. ADOBESTOCK PHOTO

For most, the Fourth of July is a day of celebrating, pool parties, barbecues, family time and fireworks. Little do most people know, the festivities associated with Independence Day are not so much fun for our four-legged family members. In fact, they are terrifying and potentially life threatening.

The Fourth of July is the No. 1 day of the year that folks in the animal welfare field dread the most. Each year, the week following July 4, thousands if not millions of stray cats and dogs enter shelters nationwide.

Pets are easily frightened and disoriented from the bright flashes and loud booms of fireworks. Many of these scared pets do not understand what is going on and they accidentally run away in fear looking for a safe and quiet place to hide. By the time, the lost pet has found a safe place to hide, they usually are so far from home that they do not know how to find their way back.

Sadly, many of these lost pets never find their way home either because they were not microchipped, did not have a properly fitted collar with name tags (with current owner contact information) or a combination of the two.

This Fourth of July, there are several things that can be done to make sure that our fur-kids feel safe and actually are safe. For pets that must remain outdoors, please make sure to properly lock and secure all gates and fences, and make sure that outdoor pets have properly fitted collars with name tags that have current contact information. Make sure that all pets that are normally kept indoors, but are included in outdoor festivities, are properly collared/harnessed and leashed with name tags that have current contact information as well.

If pets that are outdoors seem to be too frightened or stressed from all the commotion, do your best to keep them as comfortable as possible. Having a pet house with four sides, a floor, a roof and a cozy blanket may help to keep your outdoor pet feel more secure.

Putting them inside the house for the night is a better and more secure option. Pets that are kept indoors may still be fearful from the booms and flashes of fireworks outside.

During our low-cost spay and neuter trips and when we are transporting animals to rescue groups out of the Imperial Valley, we play music from albums called “Through a Dog’s Ear” and “Through a Cat’s Ear.” These albums have been scientifically proven to help relax pets and keep them calm during stressful times. They can affordably be purchased on iTunes and can virtually be played anywhere your pets are.

If you are leaving town for the holiday, please make sure to find someone who is responsible and reliable to keep a close eye on your pets while you are away. There are several local boarding and pet-sitting options, so there really is no need to surrender a pet to the shelter if you are leaving town.

Since the week leading up to Memorial Day this year, the Humane Society of Imperial County has run out of kennel space. Some kennels have multiple animals in them, causing the shelter to become extremely overcrowded. Currently, hundreds of calls are coming in everyday from pet owners wanting to surrender their pets because they are going on vacation for summer or for the Fourth of July.

Sadly because we have had so many unclaimed stray cats and dogs coming in, and due to the abnormally high number of pet owners wanting to surrender their pets, we are unable to take in any owner surrenders for the time being. If you are leaving for the Fourth of July or the summer and cannot take you pets with you, please give the Humane Society of Imperial County a call during business hours and our staff will be more than happy to provide you with the contact information of a trusted local pet sitter or pet boarding professional.

When a collar and name tag fail, please remember that the Humane Society of Imperial County does offer low-cost microchipping for pets for only $25 during regular business hours. The microchips come with an I.D. tag and a lifetime registration with PetLink (the microchip company).

All stray animals that are picked up by animal control are immediately scanned for microchips. If you find a stray or lost pet, you can take it to the Humane Society of Imperial County or to any local veterinarian to have it checked for a microchip at no cost. If your pets are not already microchipped, please consider bringing them in and having it done right away to ensure their safety.

From now until July 31, the Humane Society of Imperial County is lowering its microchip fee to only $20 to encourage pet-parents to just do it!

It is very important to remember that if you have lost a pet or have found a lost pet over the Fourth of July, you must make contact with animal control for the city that you lost or found the pet in. All strays that are found must go through animal control to help them easily find their way home.

After a state-mandated stray hold (which does not include the day the animal was picked up) with animal control, any cat or dog that is not claimed by its owner will be transferred to the Humane Society of Imperial County and will be available for adoption or sent to one of our many out-of-county, no-kill rescue partners. 

Please have a happy and safe Fourth of July everyone!


Local animal control agencies

Brawley: (760) 344-5800, ext. 10

Calexico: (442) 200-7366 or (760) 768-1861

Calipatria: (760) 351-7766

El Centro: (760) 352-2113, ext. 0

Holtville: (760) 356-2912

Imperial: (760) 355-4327 or (760) 355-1158 (after hours)

Westmorland: (760) 344-3411

Imperial County: (442) 265-2655, ext. 0

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