All over social media the memes are already circulating. Dogs and fireworks. 4th of July. What seems to be common sense among a small majority of pet owners still comes as a surprise to thousands of animal owners every year. Dogs don’t like fireworks.
The nest 48 hours on the calendar are the busiest two days of the calendar year for Animal Control and the municipal shelters that house the stray animals they are required to pick up. Tens of thousands of dogs all across the country will be left outside in backyards that aren’t secure, inside homes that have doors and windows open, and towed to bbq’s and firework displays by owners who just don’t know any better. People treat this holiday and it’s festivities like any other day. Without a basic understanding of what happens when fear takes over, it’s impossible to grasp the capability of an animal in flight mode.
On top of all that, the majority of these animals are not equipped for a quick return to owner should the unthinkable happen. No collars, no tags, no microchips. Some people can barely scrape up a photo to put in the lost and found book on the July 5th. But of course the animal means everything to them, and they are devastated that it is gone. Someone probably stole it, right? I bet the sound of those tags clinking together wouldn’t be so annoying right now, seeing as that’s why you took them off and left them on your nightstand last week. Because they made too much noise. And don’t even think about saying the dog just had a bath.
I may be considered a bit harsh, but here’s the reality.
People who lose their pets: Ever heard of the thundershirt? Of course, almost everyone has. I think it’s a waste of money, because most dogs don’t like hugs, but if it works for your dog great. My point is that a little company has made millions of dollars bringing to the attention of the general public that dogs are afraid of thunder. I mean, it’s in the name. Thundershirt. Fireworks are thunder. If you really think that your animal is the exception to the overwhelming majority of domestic creatures that are terrified of earthshaking loud noises, and it will be totally fine in the backyard without you while you attend parties and watch the sky light up like the world is ending, think again. Unless you have purposefully and adequately desensitized your animal to things like firearms and explosions, the sounds, vibrations, and flashes of light that fireworks emit terrify animals. Period. If you get your animal back after it tears through a window screen, jumps out of your moving car, or is suddenly able to dig under or climb over a six-foot wooden fence and run for miles you will be one of the lucky ones. And also read the next one, because it’s not only you and your animal that is adversely affected by your irresponsibility.
People (animal lovers) who find other people’s pets: PLEASE HOLD ON TO THEM IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. Even if you keep them crated at your house and take them out for a walk twice a day. Shelters at this time of year are already full. At capacity. When you turn a hose on slow drip in a water trough, as long as the horses continue to take drinks the water will not overflow. Put some in, and they gradually take some out. This is what normally happens at a municipal facility; the delicate balance between strays and owner surrenders coming in, and adoptions leaving. But when there is a tidal wave of animals that come into the facility at the same time, that are required to be held by state law for sometimes as long as ten days, with not nearly as many leaving the facility during the same time period, something has to happen that absolutely no one wants to happen. Animals that are already owned by the city, whether it’s owner surrenders, animals past their stray hold that no one came for, whatever, have to be euthanized for no other reason than they need the kennels for the strays coming in. People express concern for the animal they’ve found, they don’t want anything to happen to it. But you must realize that dog at the end of your makeshift leash that you are leaving at the animal shelter is not the one you have to worry about..the animals watching you walk past their windows as you leave the facility are the ones you need to say goodbye to. Report the animal as found, send the appropriate facility a picture, use Nextdoor, use Facebook lost and found sites. Hold the animal for a few days until someone comes forward. Please. 48 hours of what is basically a minor inconvenience for you can truly save lives.
Officers that have enforcement capabilities: Press hard, you are making three copies. This type of blatant irresponsibility is unacceptable these days, and should be just as punishable as purposefully setting an animal free to roam.
Enjoy your holiday everyone, may you find yourself and your pets well fed and watered and safely accounted for on Tuesday morning.