Fireworks and drought don’t mix, but don’t be surprised this weekend if some people just can’t suppress the urge to celebrate the Fourth.
That means it’s best to safe, not sorry, when it comes to protecting your animal companions.
Noise anxiety, especially on the Fourth of July holiday, causes many pets to do whatever they can to get away. While some pets hide for cover, others will bolt from houses, jump out of windows and even burst through screened doors, shelter and area veterinarians say. Unlike thunderstorms, holiday festivities are erratic, with unexpected noises coming throughout the night.
The number of stray or lost animals picked up by animal control generally doubles for several days after the holiday, said Bill Hutchison of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. It often takes many days for stray pets to be noticed by neighbors or picked up off the street and brought to the shelter.
And while canines are often thought to be most affected by noise anxiety, it's a common occurrence among felines as well, Hutchison said. In severe cases, some animals will chew at themselves out of fear or even jump through plate-glass windows, said one area veterinarian.
Pet owners who recognize that their animals suffer from noise anxiety often get tranquilizers from their veterinarians. Use common sense and a few precautions to help you and your pet enjoy the holiday:
• Keep animals away from fireworks. It's best to leave them at home if you're going to any fireworks display.
• If you can, stay indoors with your pet.
• If you plan to leave your pet, make sure a "safe place" is available, such as an open closet or crate. Leave a television or music on to defuse possible outside racket.
• Close doors and windows and secure curtains or blinds.
• Offer the pet a toy or treat diversion, such as a food-stuffed Kong, to keep them occupied.
• Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with home-contact information on the tags.
• Microchip your pet.
• Keep calm during any fireworks or noise that upsets your pet. It's best to "quietly ignore" any reaction so as not to reinforce a pet's unwanted behavior, said one area veterinarian.
If you find your pet has disappeared, take the following steps to ensure your friend's safe return:
• Immediately inform friends and neighbors and canvass the neighborhood.
• Post posters with a current photo of your pet.
• The shelter is closed Monday. Those who have lost animals should file a lost pet report by calling 983-4309, ext. 606, or visiting the shelter in person. Check the shelter's Lost Pet Web site, which is updated throughout the day, at www.sfhumanesociety.org/LostAndFound.cfm.
• Place a lost pet ad or notice in The New Mexican, the Reporter or on Craigslist. Post a lost pet blog at www.santafescoop.com.
While most pets are found within a few days, some animals take a while to locate. A lost pet report needs to be updated monthly, Hutchison said. And visit the shelter to make sure you haven't missed your pet by only viewing photos online.