PETrified: Keeping your pets safe on the Fourth of July

Each year, nationally, more pets go missing on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year.

“Every year people are so incredibly surprised that their pet has gone missing but I don’t think people are aware of how frightening fireworks are to animals,” says Habersham County Animal Care and Control (HCACC) Director Madi Nix.

Independence Day is not much of a holiday for local animal control officers who spend their time chasing down reports of “aggressive” animals.

“They’re all being called in as aggressive animals because the animals are scared and panting,” explains Nix. “I would hate to have someone think they’re being attacked by an animal that’s just scared.”

While many of the runaway pets are eventually found, not all of them are. Pet owners who have current photos of their missing pets stand a better chance of locating them because the photos can be shared on social media and posters.

And while much of the focus on missing animals is placed on pets, in a rural area such as Habersham, farm animals also are a consideration when it comes to fireworks.

“Horses are very sensitive to fireworks,” Nix says. “There are a lot of people I know with horses that have either injured themselves or killed themselves when fireworks go off by running through fences and barbed wire.”

Not only is a startled, loose horse a danger to themselves, but also, potentially, to the public.

Officials urge anyone shooting fireworks near homes and farms to alert the owners ahead of time.

“It would be considerate and neighborly to let your friends and neighbors know in advance that you’ll be shooting fireworks,” offers Nix. “It doesn’t take much time to do it and it could help them protect their animals.”

Protecting pets on the Fourth

There are things pet owners can do to calm their animals and protect them from firework fears.

  • Refrain from taking pets to a fireworks display.
  • Keep pets secured indoors. If having visitors over, let everyone know to watch the door carefully so pets don’t escape.
  • Keep the radio or television on for your pets to help mute the sound of fireworks.
  • Make sure pets have current ID on them if they do escape.
  • Take a current photo of your pet, so in case they do go missing, the community can help get them home.

If you live in Habersham County and your pet does go missing over the July 4th holiday, HCACC can help you get the word out to the public. Just direct message your missing pet’s photo, name, and information about where they went missing to the Habersham County Animal Shelter Facebook page or email it to mnix@habershamga.com.

“We’re closed but we are still sharing missing photos of dogs and cats on our social media,” says Nix, “and we will be sharing those immediately.”

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