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June 18, 2008 > Ohlone Humane Society: The end of the world is coming!

Ohlone Humane Society: The end of the world is coming!

By Nancy Lyon

It seems like every July 4th the warning goes out - have fun, celebrate the holiday but don't forget the animals in your family! And sadly, each year, people don't think this advice applies to them. The aftermath often finds family animals escaping from the sudden unexplained and terrifying noise, being killed in traffic or disappearing never to be seen again. The lucky escapees...those who survive...end up in local shelters and are reclaimed by their trusted guardians. Unfortunately, in too many cases, no one comes for them and they never make it out of the shelter alive.

For all animals, any sudden loud noise is frightening and the booming explosions that accompany celebrations on and around the Fourth of July seem life threatening. For them it's the real thing...their worst nightmare is happening and they must escape or die

Even smaller legal fireworks can be fear inducing to our animal friends. Add to them the horrific and dangerous explosions from cherry bombs, bottle rockets and guns set off by those who have no respect for the law, much less the safety of animals and homeowners.

Since it seems that there will always be those among who have little respect for the law or the results of their irresponsible acts, it's safe to assume there will be explosions near your home not only on July 4th but for a number of days before and after the holiday.

By taking some simple precautions you can reduce the stress to your animal family and perhaps save their lives:

Never take your companion animal anyplace where there will be fireworks or leave them in the car where unexpected explosions might occur.

If you are at home with your dog or cat during this period and they become frightened, divert their attention by practicing an obedience routine or playing a game.

If your animal is super sensitive to loud noises, discuss the possibility of sedation with your vet well in advance of July 4th.

If a serious reaction to loud noises is a continuing problem, seek the help of a trained animal behaviorist who can assist in modifying the terror response in the future.

If you must go out, leave them at home with one or more responsible human family members. Even the most stable animal who is left alone on this night and for several days before and after the 4th can become a victim.

Leave a frightened cat alone. Do not try to force a cat from its hiding place. When cats feel safe they will come out of hiding.

Rather than leave your animals home alone, consider boarding them at a professional kennel or with your vet for the holiday.

Think outside the box, if you feel like celebrating, plan an at home party instead of participating in other events. Making new traditions can be fun for you and help your animal family. Keep shy animals in a quiet room separate from guests.

If you absolutely feel you must leave them alone, the following may help prevent a tragedy:

Before you leave your home make sure that all of your animals are secured safely inside the house in a room with no windows such as a bathroom or washroom. The garage even while tightly secured still is dangerous to a very frightened animal.

If left in the garage, block screened garage air vents. Panicked dogs have been known to chew through air vents and have been seriously hurt or escaped and have been injured or killed.

A radio or TV left at normal volume will provide soothing music and helps to mask the noise.

Remove any items that might injure animal in an anxious and destructive state.

Do not tie up your dog outdoors. In an effort to escape from the noise they will often break their chains or tether, jump the fence and run away. If the chains don't break, your dog may strangle trying to jump a fence. Keep them on leash for potty walks even in the backyard.

Cats left outside may disappear forever.

Never allow your animal companions to roam free, especially on July 4th. They can become the targets of abuse by cruel pranksters. Frightened animals may run into traffic and endanger themselves and motorists.

It is especially important during the days before and after July 4th to make sure that every member of your animal family is wearing an identification tag with your current address and phone number. Talk to your vet about a microchip ID implant as a further protection.

If the worst happens and he or she is lost, be sure to check with your local and adjacent area animal shelter ASAP. Animals who survive are often found miles from their homes, confused, disoriented, and exhausted.

To help find those that ran for their lives...and survived, be sure to find out ahead of time the operational hours of your local and adjacent animal shelters. Getting them home soon is less expensive for you and less traumatic for them.

If a frightened animal is a traffic hazard, seriously injured, or if you feel threatened, immediately call your local Animal Services Department. If you are unable to reach a live person contact your police department ASAP. Seriously injured or very frightened lost animals that may not be safe to transport are the responsibility of the police department during this period.

Companion animals are not the only victims of fireworks. In hot, dry weather, fireworks can start a roaring inferno in grass and dry brush. When fires are started by careless and thoughtless people, helpless wildlife not only lose their lives, they lose life sustaining habitat and homes.

If you see someone using fireworks irresponsibly or illegally contact your police department ASAP.

Protect your animals and home - think before you act and be watchful.

Tri-City Animal Shelter hours: Tuesday-Friday 12-5 p.m.; Saturday 11-4 p.m. Phones open after 1 p.m. - (510)790-6643 or 34. Fremont Police Dept. - (510) 790-6800 - shelters animals from Fremont, Newark, Union City and San Leandro. Hayward Animal Shelter hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.; (510) 293-7200. Hayward Police Dept. - (510) 293-7029.

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