Every year on the 5th of July, the animal shelters are filled to the brim with dogs and cats who were spooked by the loud noises and flashes of fireworks and escaped to roam the streets. These are the “lucky” one who were not hit by cars or have other severe medical injuries from trying to escape the loud noises.

Here are some tips to help make your pets 4th of July safer and saner for you too:

Before the 4th of July:

  1. Make sure you have a well-fitting collar or harness for your dog or a collar for your cat and get an ID tag with your current contact information. (You can get these at most pet stores).
  2. Have your dog microchipped. This can be done at any veterinarian and is the best way to assure your pets find their way home. If they are already chipped, make sure that your contact information is up to date. That means your current cell number too. You can register your pet’s microchip, no matter what brand, at Found.org. It is free and they accept all brands and frequencies.
  3. Take a current photo of your dog or cat in case they do go missing. Don’t worry about how cute they look, just make sure it is a good photo that people could use to identify your pet. You also should have a current photo of you with your pet to prove you are the owner.
  4. Make sure you have things to keep your dog occupied. Things like a Kong toy with a frozen treat inside may help keep your dogs mind off of the noise at least for a little while.
  5. Call your veterinarian if you know your pets get agitated over fireworks or other loud sounds. She or he may advise you to give diphenhydramine (generic Benadryl) or other medication to keep your pet calm.
  6. Consider purchasing a Thunder Shirt. These tight fitting dog shirts help calm many dogs with there are loud noises.

On the 4th of July:

  1. Do not take your dog with you to fireworks shows, parties or picnics. Even if you keep them in the car, this can be excruciating for them.
  2. Bring your pets in the house and put them someplace safe and secure. If at all possible, and they are used to it, put them in a crate and cover it with a blanket. If not, put them in an interior room away from windows. Make the room as “escape-proof” as possible. Play soft, soothing music or have the television on to help drown out the noise.
  3. If you are hosting a party or gathering, put signs up around the area reminding guests to keep doors and gates closed so your animals don’t escape.

If your pet does escape:

  1. Make posters and flyers featuring a photo of your pet. Be sure to put “reward” so people know how important your pet is to you. You can also put the text through a translator in Google or other search engine to get a version in Spanish or other language.
  2. Put these posters up around your neighborhood and even a few miles away. Be sure to pay attention to places pets often go to such as schools and pre-schools, grocery stores, dog parks and other places your dog may “know”. Give the flyers our to local delivery drivers such as UPS and FedEx as well as your postal person. These folks are out and about in your area all the time.
  3. Post to social media. Be sure to put something on your neighborhood App like NextDoor and post to Craigslist. Look for local Facebook pages like 831 Lost and Found Pets for the Monterey Area. Also look to see if local dog parks have a Facebook page and post there as well.
  4. Alert ALL of the local shelters that your pet is missing. In Monterey County that is the SPCA on Highway 68, and the Monterey County Animal Services and Salinas Animal Services, both on Hitchcock Road in Salinas. GO TO THE SHELTERS to look. Don’t expect already overworked staff and volunteers to look for your pet. It is much too easy to overlook your dog or cat, especially if it is a somewhat common breed like a Chihuahua, Labrador retriever, poodle or pit bull, tabby cat or mixed breed.
  5. Take your flyers to all of the local veterinarian’s offices. Many people, if they find an animal, will take it to their local veterinarian to have it scanned for a microchip. The dog or cat may never make it to the shelter but your local veterinarian might have seen them.
  6. Go out and look for your pet! Take treats that you know they like since they might be traumatized.
  7. Be persistent and thorough! Remember your pet can’t call home, it is up to you to keep them safe and find them if they go missing.