As we like to remind people every year as the Fourth of July approaches, loud holiday celebrations – especially if they include fireworks – can be very stressful for our furry family members. But there are things you can do to help minimize their anxiety, and to make sure that if they do get spooked and run, you increase their chances of returning home safely. This list was compiled from recommendations from both the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) and the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services:
- Make sure your pet has a collar and tags with contact information. If the tags are older, make sure they’re still legible (long term wear causes text to fade) and securely fastened. O-rings and S-hooks that normally attach tags will break over time, and tags can be lost without the owner realizing it.
- Get your pet microchipped and make sure you register your pet with the microchip company. From now through through Sunday, July 9, LA Animal Services is offering free microchips and tags (while supplies last). No appointment is necessary – just visit any of the six LA Animal Services Centers Center hours from 8am to 5pm, Tuesdays through Fridays, and 11am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. (City shelters are closed on Mondays and City-observed holidays.)
- Purchase a pet tracking device for your pet’s collar or harness. GPS trackers can work with your smart phone to tell you exactly where your animal is if you get separated.
- Do not take your pets with you when going to see fireworks displays. The noise and other activities at these events can easily frighten and overwhelm your dog or cat.
- If you are leaving town for the weekend and cannot take your pets with you, make sure you leave them with someone who will be cautious and keep them secure during Fourth of July celebrations.
- Also, whether you’re leaving your pet with a sitter or travelling with your dog or cat, pull together copies of your pet’s vaccinations, licenses, prescriptions, a copy of the pet’s microchip number and registry, vet information, and photographs of your pet from different angles. Include any unique medical diagnoses or treatments that a veterinarian may need to know, along with a “pet personality profile” (including the food it eats, special fears, favorite activities, etc.), which can help someone care for your pet and/or help search for and identify it if it escapes.
- If your pet will be home during parties or nearby fireworks displays, keep them indoors in a cool, comfortable place with some “white noise” distraction.
- If your pet wants to hide from noise or hubbub, allow them access to a room away from windows.
- If your dog is outside, make sure all gates are closed and locked and fencing is secure.
- Talk to your veterinarian if you feel your pet may need additional support through medication…and do it today if possible – don’t wait until July 4, when most vet offices are closed.
“Independence Day is a time of celebration for humans but not for animals. Fireworks can terrify our beloved pets, and they may become injured or lost as a result. Please make sure your pets are safe and properly identified in case they flee, and keep a close eye on your pets to monitor their behavior and stress level” says DACC Director Marcia Mayeda.
Finally, LA County officials recommend that if your pet gets out or if you find a pet, report it and search on Petco Love Lost, “the nation’s largest nonprofit lost and found pet database.” The service includes pets from nearly every animal shelter in the Los Angeles area, privately reported lost and found pets, and even pets posted on social media. According to DACC, pet parents can also take proactive measures and register their pets on PetcoLoveLost.org in case they go missing…and community members can help other families reunite with their pets by checking lost pets in their area at https://lost.petcolove.org/