When you walk outside there is no denying that we’re in the heart of summer, and soon enough, this means, 4th of July celebrations! Who doesn’t love late night barbeques, bonfires, parades, ice cream, and of course, fireworks? While 4th of July can be one of the most exciting times of the year for humans, it can be one of the more dangerous times of the year for our dogs. The good news is there are some simple steps we can take that can greatly reduce the risks these festivities can bring to our four-legged friends. Here are some tips for our fellow dog parents and some ways you can help protect these precious animals even if you don’t own a dog. Promoting dog safety on 4th of July is easy with these techniques.

Safety on 4th of July

When the fireworks start popping, they are loud – even to us! But with a dog’s superior hearing (think…4 times better!), fireworks can be absolutely deafening and terrifying. Many times dogs will take off and run out of instinct because they’re so startled. This is a potential hazard for so many reasons. The streets are more crowded during this time of year, people are rowdy, and the shelters are filling up with lost dogs.

Tips to prepare your dog for 4th of July.

To mitigate this risk, you can take a few precautions. First, make sure your dog’s microchip and tags are up to date and on your pup. This will be very helpful in the event your dog runs off. Second, consider keeping your dogs indoors in a safe place, possibly with some white noise to help counter the startling sounds during the pyrotechnics.

4th of July Companion

While we urge you to leave your dog home during the festivities (there are so many other wonderful, dog-friendly activities in Austin, after all!), you may choose to bring them along with you. If you think your dog can handle the sights and sounds, that’s great, but do make sure to have an escape plan in place. If your dog starts to get rattled, it is your duty as their pet owner, to have a safe place to take them so that they may calm down.

Before the event, you’ll want to get everything ready. Make sure your dog’s microchip information is accurate, their collar ID tags are readable and that their collar/harness are fitted properly. Jot down a list of shelters located near the event in the off-chance your dog gets lost amid all the excitement. Finally, bring along calming treats or chews and your pet first aid kit.

Doing Your Part

Speaking of shelters, this is a great time to remind you that animal shelters can quickly become overcrowded this time of year. Unfortunately, when these facilities get crowded, there are little options available to them for handling the influx. This can mean not taking in lost dogs, thus putting them at risk for getting themselves hurt when running around scared and confused. Or this can mean euthanizing lost or stray pets that have been in the shelter for a long period of time to make room for the newcomers.

Both situations are absolutely heartbreaking, but you can help! Many shelters promote temporary fostering of shelter dogs prior to the 4th of July holiday to free up space. This helps make room for any dogs who run away from home during the holiday’s commotion. You don’t have to own a dog to foster, and it is not a long-term commitment. You would only be needed to keep the shelter pet safe and at home for a few days to a week while the shelter experiences their higher than normal influx of lost pets. Then, you can return the dog after all the lost pets have been safely returned to their homes.

Check out our local shelters that offer fostering services: Austin Animal Center, The Austin Humane Society, Austin Pets Alive! and several others. If you have any questions about the process, be sure to contact the shelter; they’d be happy to help!

Lost Dog 411

If you happen to run into a lost, scared dog this summer, there a few ways you can help keep them out of harm’s way. First, always be cautious of scared dogs! Try and calm the dog and let them ease into the situation before trying to take charge. You could startle them more or even get bitten. However, when and if the situation is safe, try to move them to a safe place. You can bring them to a local shelter, veterinarian’s office, or even, your home. Wherever you take them, know that you are doing the right thing.

If you aren’t bringing them to a shelter right away, you will need to look for the owner. They may be in the same general area looking frantically for their furry bestie. If you can’t immediately find them, you will need to think of another way to locate them. Check for ID tags with the owner’s contact information.

Social media is often a fast and efficient way to spread the word. If you were at an event try posting a picture with a caption to the event page on social media. There are also several local lost pet pages people use for just this situation. If that doesn’t work, you can always use good old-fashion flyers and door to door detective work. But please keep in mind you may need to house the lost pet for several days before being able to locate the owner.

Have Fun!

The 4th of July is an amazing time of year with the potential for creating lifelong memories. Those memories can be good or those memories can be bad. Please take the steps to prepare and protect not only your pets this season but also the pets of your fellow Americans. If we all work together, perhaps we can significantly limit the number of dogs that have to suffer this summer; and what’s more American than helping dogs?