Santa Fe Scoop

Off leash: Keep your canines cool on the Fourth

It’s been a tough stretch for our furry animal companions. First there was that endless winter, followed quickly by a hot, hot spring and summer that has yet to ease.

And now it’s time for bombs bursting in air. Yup, Fourth of July. While most of us have a blast enjoying our nation’s Independence Day, many dogs would prefer to be on the moon.

And if you’ve ever seen a dog react to fireworks, you might just think they are trying to jump over that celestial orb.
Some dogs never get used to fireworks or thunder, mainly because the noises are so unpredictable, said Bill Hutchison, the communications director at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society. The shelter braces for an influx of stray and confused animals about this time of year that lasts well beyond the holiday.

There are plenty of things you can do to help prepare your pet for the inevitable artillery fire. The most important, perhaps, is something that should be done immediately, regardless of the coming holiday: microchip your pet. Having proper identification, either through a clearly marked tag and collar or microchip, increases the odds you’ll get your pet back should he or she run off.

To that end, Hutchison reminds people that inexpensive micropchipping is available every Friday on a walk-in basis at the shelter’s Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic, 2570-B Camino Entrada (between Kohl’s and Outback Steakhouse). The clinic runs from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m. Cost is $20.

And just to prove a point, clinic workers tell Scoop that a Chihuahua mix found running loose and brought in for vaccinations was first scanned for a chip, which helped reunite the dog with its owner. The dog had apparently gone missing eight months before after slipping out of an open gate.

Eight months and still reunited with its family. It doesn’t get better than that.

But let’s just say you’ve done everything on your list to make sure your pet is safe. It is the holiday, however, and who can resist a backyard barbecue invitation with fireworks to follow? A recipe for disaster, Hutchison says, no matter how great those ribs might taste.

It’s best to leave your dog at home, Hutchison says, and enjoy the fireworks on your own. Here are some more tips:

Do not leave your pet in the car. Your pet can suffer serious health effects, even death, in a few short minutes.

Keep your pets indoors in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can be destructive when frightened, so remove any items that your pet could destroy or could be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave on a television or radio to keep him company.

Consider tranquilizers. If you know your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises, consult a veterinarian about proper medication to alleviate fear or anxiety.

If you plan on going away for the holiday weekend, make sure your pet-sitter knows how to help your animal.


Artist Beth Surdut is the first to admit she’s got a thing for ravens. She’s been writing about the crafty critters and capturing their movement in various art forms for years. Some of her raven work is on display as part of the the Randall Davey Invitational Wildlife Art Show, 1800 Upper Canyon Road, through Wednesday.

Surdut’s solo exhibit opens from 5 to 7 p.m. July 9 at the Audubon center. She’s inviting people to share stories of the birds at a 5:30 p.m. July 22 potluck at the bird sanctuary. Surdut says she hopes to introduce all the people who have contacted her with raven tales as well as collect new stories. Find out more about the event or RSVP by e-mailing her at


Most dogs left for hours at the end of a chain react just like you’d expect: frustrated, angry and itching to break free. It’s a sad fact that for some dogs, that’s their life. They’re not family pets, they’re resident dogs — a dog that’s there, but not really a part of the pack.

Animal Protection of New Mexico hopes to change that. Last week, the nonprofit started a new campaign, “Train. Don’t Chain.” The statewide campaign, which uses education and advocacy efforts to highlight the issue, aims to end the cruel and dangerous practice.

Dogs are social creatures who need to interact with other beings, preferably loving owners. When chained dogs don’t get companionship, they become anxious and frightened, which can escalate to agitation and aggression.
In a separate event Saturday, a handful of people will chain themselves for up to 11 hours at The University of New Mexico to draw attention to the issue.

The event, organized by UnChain New Mexico, starts at 9 a.m. on the college campus.

APNM’s campaign, according to Leslie King, community programs manager, encourages people to become active and involved with their dogs through shared activities such as regular walking, running, hiking or training programs.

A public service announcement, “Even Dogs Have Dreams,” shows chaining from a dog’s perspective. APNM has also created a website,, that offers positive solutions and humane alternatives to chaining.

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Comment by om on June 28, 2010 at 11:23pm
Overheard on the radio: Microchips might be related to Cancer? Some studies found a link it seems. Anyone knows more?

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