By Terry Jester
I can’t think of a more stressful or dangerous holiday for our pets than the Fourth of July. It is the most likely holiday for your pet to end up in the emergency veterinary hospital, or worse. Chicken bones lodged in your dog’s throat, snatched from the family’s picnic.
Firecrackers tied to your cat’s tail. Cats and dogs hit by cars trying to escape the noise of this special day. There are many ways for your pet to be killed or injured on our nation’s birthday.
I remember one Fourth of July, many years ago. I was an animal control officer in California. I was working the swing shift. It started with a report of neighborhood children throwing lit firecrackers into the yard of their next door neighbor. The yard housing a German Shepherd.
No one was home. The dog had suffered severe trauma from the first fire cracker blowing up in his face. Several more firecrackers were thrown into the yard before another neighbor investigated and called the humane society.
I had rushed the dog to the vet and was finishing my paperwork on the arrest of the kids responsible when it started getting dark. This was my very first Fourth of July as an animal control officer. I had no idea what I was in store for.
Right before dusk, the first calls started coming in. Loose dogs, everywhere. Scared by the noise of people setting off (illegal) firecrackers in their neighborhood, the dogs were jumping over and chewing through their fences in order to escape. Not knowing that the noise was everywhere, the dogs were frantic in their attempt to get away.
I was sent to retrieve dog after dog, the police dispatcher dispassionately telling me about one dog in traffic after another. I never got to any of them. On my way to a Beagle in traffic, I saw a Golden Retriever laying by the side of the freeway.
I stopped and got the still living dog into the van and to the vet hospital. On the way out of the vet hospital, dispatch told me of two dogs on the freeway. I never got to them. On my way, I found a cat, just hit by a car, on the frontage road. I got the cat to the vet.
On the way to the vet with the cat, dispatch told me of another dog, hit by a car, about ten miles away. It went on like that all night. I was sent from one injured animal to another. It was a nightmare.
Please, make the animal control officer’s job a little easier this Fourth of July. Remember that this is the deadliest holiday for pets. Keep them safe in the house.
Do not allow firecrackers anywhere near them. Ask your vet for a pet sedative if you think it necessary. Enjoy the Fourth, but take precautions to make sure your pet is still healthy and alive on the fifth.
Terry Jester is a nationally recognized expert on companion animal behavior. She is regarded by The Humane Society of the United States as being, “Humane and effective in dealing with problem pets and their owners.” Connect with Terry on her website.