Even the most patriotic animal shelter worker will tell you they dread the Fourth of July holiday. According to the ASPCA, more pets go missing during Fourth of July than any other time of the year. Fireworks terrify dogs, cats, birds (wild and domestic), horses, wildlife and farm animals, and they will go to extraordinary lengths to escape what they perceive as danger.
The City of Las Cruces’ annual fireworks display is July 4. As of May 2022, personal fireworks in New Mexico on land with flammable vegetation are prohibited because of severe wildfire danger, and hopefully this will reduce the number of lost pets in our area.
Some places in Europe, Canada, and the United Kingdom have switched to low-noise fireworks out of respect for companion animals, wildlife, veterans, and those on the autism spectrum. Even here in the US, some towns in Arizona, California, and Colorado have replaced fireworks with stunning drone displays or reduced-noise pyrotechnics.
Pets are individuals, of course, and may react to fireworks in different ways. Even if yours are usually the calmest and most mellow beasties, you’ll want a fireworks plan to ensure their safety, especially if your pet is a new member of the family and you don’t know how they’ll react. When it comes to animals and fireworks, preparation is key. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA; avma.org) has several recommendations.
First, make sure your pet is microchipped and that the chip is registered with your up-to-date information. Identification tags with your phone number allow a good Samaritan to reach you without finding someone to scan your dog or cat for a chip. Have horses? Consider placing breakaway halters with your contact information on them for the duration of fireworks season. Also have current photos of all your animals that clearly show the face, body, and any distinguishing marks in case you need them for “lost pet” posts.
Evaluate your yard. If your neighbor shoots off fireworks unexpectedly, is your yard secure enough to keep your pets contained? Of course, the safest place for an animal is indoors in a “security” room when the city display fires up or when your neighbors break out the flash bangs. If your dog is crate-trained, its crate and a blankie can help make your pup feel more secure (but only if your dog is already crate trained – don’t make this your first attempt).
Lowering the blinds and turning on the radio or television can block out some of the noise. Talk to your veterinarian about ThunderShirts, homeopathic options, or pharmaceutical sedatives if your pet has a history of anxiety.
Heading out to parties, parades, or fireworks displays? Leave Fido (and Kitty) at home in their security room! Loud noise, big crowds, and unfamiliar places can be stressful and frightening for animals. If the party is at your house, place notes on doors and gates to ensure guests don’t let your pets out. Better yet, let Fido and Kitty hang out in the peace of their security room.
Of course, keep pets away from the grill, and don’t allow them near sparklers, glow sticks (the luminescent material is toxic), kabob skewers, or – it should go without saying – fireworks.
When the party is over, before allowing your pets or horses access to their outdoor areas, check the yard for toxic, sharp, or other harmful debris. Make sure they can’t get into garbage that contains bones or leftovers from your Fourth of July picnic.
If you find a lost pet after the Fourth of July holiday, ASCMV Office Manager Michelle Williams notes that, as always, please remember bringing it to the ASCMV is the last resort.
“Try to find the owner first by posting a photo on social media, placing a found animal report at the ASCMV, putting up flyers in the area you found it, and getting it scanned for a microchip by Animal Control, a veterinarian, a rescue , or the ASCMV. But please hold on to it for as long as you can – this is even more important now because of the distemper outbreak that has affected the ASCMV and our region. ”
Williams adds, “The ASCMV does offer microchips for the public. The cost is $ 10, and you need to make an appointment. Your pet needs to be up-to-date on its rabies vaccination to get a chip, but if it is not, you can get a rabies vaccine at the same time as a microchip for an additional $ 10. ”
Celebrate our great nation by making sure your pet stays safe. Happy Independence Day from the ASCMV!
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Elaine Stachera Simon writes for the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley. Follow on Facebook (facebook.com/ASCMV), check out ascmv.org or call 575-382-0018.