Independence Day 2008 will be celebrated Friday by families all across our country. And on Saturday, in the aftermath of the ritual of fireworks, animal shelters will be inundated with frantic phone calls about lost pets.
Most family pets hate fireworks. They have no idea what is happening, and every pet will react differently to the stresses caused by this exciting holiday. Because your pets' reactions can be unpredictable, here are some tips from the Humane Society of the Nature Coast on how to prepare and protect your pet.
• Do not leave your pets outside, even if they normally spend their days in the yard. The noises may cause your pet to try to escape. He may try digging under the fence or jumping over it when frightened. Pets who have never jumped a fence before may try this when stressed. Also, if you normally keep your dog tied, he might strangle himself in his panic and efforts to get away.
• Keep your pets inside in a safe and secure room. Turn on a fan, the radio or television loudly to help drown out the unusual noises of the holiday.
A room without windows is the best place. Many pets will become destructive with furniture and chewable items when frightened, and a few have tried to go through windows in their panic.
• If you know that your pet can panic or become anxious during fireworks, contact your veterinarian about medicinal options. But do not sedate your pet unless you do so under the supervision of your veterinarian.
• Do not take your pet to fireworks displays or picnics where you know there will be fireworks.
• Do not leave your pet in the car. In addition to the stress of the noise and lights that may make your pet try to escape, a car is too hot and unsafe for your pet.
• Your dog or cat should have a license attached to its collar, and it should have an identification tag attached with your information on it. The best identification for your pet is to have a microchip record.
Collars can tear or be pulled off in a panic, but a microchip is secure under the skin of your pet.
If your pet does get lost, visit the Humane Society of North Pinellas, the SPCA and Pinellas County Animal Services daily. These agencies likely will be flooded with calls for lost and found pets after the holiday.
Contact the Humane Society of North Pinellas at (727) 797-7722, the SPCA at (727) 586-3591 and Pinellas County Animal Services at (727) 582-2600.
Joanne Schoch is executive director of the Humane Society of the Nature Coast in Brooksville.