(St.Joseph,MO) Fireworks are a huge tradition for Independence Day celebrations, but while you might enjoy setting off firecrackers and bottle rockets,they could be putting your pets at risk.
Jennifer Lockwood, Humane Educator for the St. Joseph Animal Shelter said the fourth of July is one of the busiest days of the year for the shelter due to the large number of animals becoming frightened or disoriented during the fireworks celebration.
"Across the country shelters usually see an increase of thirty to sixty percent in their animals over the fourth of July," Lockwood said.
The shelter has been working to clear out additional pens in preparation for the extra strays they will take in over the holiday.
"We've had some adoption events over the last few days trying to help clear out the shelter so that we can make room for these guys that might get lost over the fourth of July," Lockwood said.
There are extra precautions people can take to keep their pets safe if they get seperated during the holiday festivities.
"Making sure your animals have ID tags or that they're microchipped, some way to get them back to you safely and efficiently, that's really important," Lockwood said.
Lockwood said there are also products you can buy at local pet stores to help your animals feel safe during the louder parts of the evening.
“With a ThunderShirt, those apply pressure secure around the dog and help it feel safe,” Lockwood said. “There are other pheromones that people can use, they are little plug ins that help to sooth the animal. Those products are safe and encouraged to use around this time of year.”
Gary Silverglat, Co-Founder of Angels Vet Express in Savannah, said fireworks aren't the only thing pet owners should be looking out for.Dehydration combined with exposure to extreme heat can also cause serious problems for pets.
"If you have a dog out and it looks like [he is experiencing] heat exhaustion, get your garden hose and with cool water soak him down as fast as you can and get him to a vet," Silverglat said.
Keeping pets hydrated and away from the fireworks is only half the battle, you also need to be sure to pick up any leftover firework debris.
"The firecrackers are very deadly. The gunpowder is deadly to dogs and cats, so I would be sure to pick it all up," Silverglat said.
Lockwood said you should keep pets in an interior room of your home and recommends turning on music or the TV to help drown out the extra noise while fireworks are being used.
The St.Joseph Animal Shelter will reopen Thursday, July 5, for anyone needing to check for lost pets.