Many pets will have a terrifying time during the pyrotechnic displays both large and small, and the Tracy Animal Shelter staff urges pet owners to take precautions to keep their pets safe.
Animal services supervisor Ben Miller said the shelter saw nearly 50 strays reach the shelter in the week following July Fourth, 2010, and the fear is the legalization of safe and sane fireworks in Tracy will cause even more pet panic this year.
The shelter will be at full staff for the week following the holiday as they brace for the rush of stray pets frightened from their homes.
“The days following the fifth of July are the busiest days for animal services agencies,” Miller said. “We see an increase in everything from stray dogs and cats to injured animals, as they are hurt escaping their own yards. Pets become scared and anxious from loud fireworks, and their natural instinct is to run — often injuring themselves as they go over or through fences.”
The shelter has 20 kennel cages and three overflow cages, but Miller expects the spaces to fill fast. The cages can be divided in half, but space for strays will still be at a premium. Miller expects to have the kennels filled to capacity by noon July 5.
Pet owners are urged to make sure their pets have proper identification tags, should they escape. Dogs should have their license tags, and cats should wear a collar with some kind of owner contact information. Miller said of the strays impounded at the shelter through the year, only 5 percent have tags or ID. Still, the shelter manages to return 40 percent of strays to their owners.
Anyone who has a dog run away is urged to visit the shelter to see if it has been recovered.
“If your animal is at the shelter, please redeem it as soon as possible to free up much-needed space,” Miller said.
Residents can call the shelter at 831-6364 to report a found stray. If the dog is acting aggressive or dangerous, they should call 911.
Miller also had several suggestions for keeping pets safe during the neighborhood and citywide fireworks displays.
n Take your dog for a long walk before the fireworks start. This will allow the pet to go to the bathroom before the noise begins, and the exercise may tire him out.
n During fireworks displays, keep your pets indoors in a confined and secure room.
n Turn on a TV or radio with the volume up for added distraction.
n If your pet is extremely sensitive, consider consulting a veterinarian for a mild sedative or tranquilizer to keep her calm.
n People leaving town for the holidays should consider boarding pets in a kennel.
n Ensure your pet has identification on its collar, at least the legally required dog license.
n Dogs that are anxious may be destructive if scared. Owners should considerer having some favorite chew toys handy.
Miller cautioned against pet owners chaining their dogs in the backyard. Dogs can become entangled in the chain, causing an injury or death, if it tries to escape. He also warned residents not to leave pets in a car. The interior of a car can heat up quickly, and the pet could suffer permanent injury or death.
Residents in Mountain House who lose a pet or find a stray during the holidays need to contact the San Joaquin County animal shelter at 953-6070. Tracy animal services will not respond to pick up strays from county areas.
Miller advised that owners should be vigilant not just on the Fourth, but also during the days before and after Independence Day
Safe and sane fireworks go on sale in Tracy June 28. They may be lit from June 28 to July 3 from noon until 10 p.m. On July 4, they may be lit from noon to midnight — after that, is illegal to use any type of fireworks in the city, though reports often trickle in to police about their use.