SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As San Diego prepares for the Fourth of July weekend, public officials are reminding residents and tourists alike to prepare for common issues which can arise during the county's Independence Day celebration.
More pets run away on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year, and local animal organizations are urging people to be prepared.
"The solution is prevention," said Rancho Coastal Humane Society spokesman John Van Zante. "Pets don't want to watch fireworks. It's loud and confusing. It echoes. No matter where they run, there's more noise -- so they keep running."
RCHS, county and San Diego Humane Society representatives encourage pet owners to take precautions.
"With many people becoming new dog owners over the past year, it is important to be alert to their dog's reaction to fireworks," said County Animal Services Director Kelly Campbell. "And if the noise is a problem for their dog, there are things they can do to help dogs feel safe and secure.
"We recommend keeping dogs inside and in a secure room as some dogs can have extreme panicky reactions that may include digging under, climbing over or even breaking through gates, screens, fences, windows and doors," Campbell said. "The backup plan is microchipping your pet, in case they still manage to run away."
If your pet struggles with anxiety, check with your veterinarian for remedies to lower their stress level during the holiday.
"July Fourth is a holiday for people, not animals, which is why we typically see an increased number of stray pets at San Diego Humane Society in the days following the celebrations," said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO, San Diego Humane Society. "Pets spooked by the noise have been known to jump fences out of fear and confusion.
"It is so important for pet parents to plan ahead and make sure their animals are safe," he continued. "In the event your pet does get lost, please file a report with us and check our website for stray animals we have taken in."
All SDHS shelters will be closed Sunday, but open for intake and reclaims of stray animals on Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you find a stray pet over the holiday, SDHS recommends trying to locate the owner in the area first. The pet may have tags with a phone number and you may be able to prevent a ride to the shelter.
If you lose a pet, check San Diego Humane Society's Lost and Found Pets page. If you need to report an animal emergency during after hours, contact your local law enforcement.
If you find a lost pet in the unincorporated area of the county after the fireworks, call County Animal Services' 24-hour emergency dispatch number at 619-236-2341 so the animal can be cared for at the shelter. If you lose your pet, check the department's lost and found page.
If you see your dog is at County Animal Services, you can pick up your pet starting at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Even before the fireworks, the holiday poses some dangers for pets.
"Fourth of July picnics can be dangerous for pets," Van Zante said. "It's hot, they beg and they bark. People put them in a hot car or tie them to a bumper. Emergency hospitals treat dogs who burn their paws on hot coals, touch their noses to grills, choke on chicken bones and swallow kebab skewers. Leave them home."
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